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Header - All is lost, Save Honor

December 14, 2018 | Norman Fulkerson

 

While we are constantly reminded that humanity seems to be morally spiraling out of control, one outstanding individual action can shed a light of hope in an otherwise dark panorama. That is what happened on Monday, November 19, 2018 with the tragic death of Jamie Schmidt.

That day might have seemed like very normal for Mrs. Schmidt. Little did she know when she entered Catholic Supply, a religious goods store in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, that this ordinary day would be her last. Nor did her family ever dream her life would come to a heroic end with her being compared to Saint Maria Goretti.1

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In many ways, 53-year-old Jamie Schmidt could be considered an average Catholic lady, which only serves to make her final moments more outstanding. She was a mother of three who married her high school sweetheart. She sang in the choir at her parish church, St. Anthony of Padua in High Ridge, Missouri. Friends described her as a giving person: someone who was always there if you needed help. She was also a devotee of Our Lady who actually made and distributed rosaries.

We know this because her reason for stopping at Catholic Supply was to purchase material for her rosary-making apostolate. There were only two other people in the store—both female employees—at the time of her arrival at 3:30 in the afternoon.

Moments later, Thomas Bruce entered. He looked around a bit then explained he was going to make a purchase but needed to get a credit card from his car. When he returned, he had a gun, and the three women were faced with their worst nightmare.

 

“In the Name of God…”

Man pointing gun at cameraBruce ordered the ladies into a corner of the store. One can only speculate as to what was going through Jamie’s head at that critical moment. During the time it took them to reach the designated spot, she could have deduced his indecent intentions by the mere fact that he did not request money from the cash register. Upon arriving at the chosen spot Bruce ordered the ladies to disrobe.

In such a situation, Jamie could have responded in a way that might pacify her assailant. It is likely she understood there would be no reasoning with such a man. The thought also might have occurred to her that God had placed her in that situation because He wanted to test her fidelity to Him. While this is pure conjecture, her categorical response is a documented fact and represented an act of Christian testimony one would only expect to find among early Church martyrs in the Roman Coliseum, not from a twenty-first-century Catholic lady in a modern American city.

“In the name of God,” Jamie said, “I will not take my clothes off!” Using that type of phraseology was the equivalent to taking an oath before her Creator. It was thus an unequivocal, categorical, no, an absolute refusal to a man with a loaded gun who was clearly not going to accept opposition.

 

A Glorious End

Sadly the outcome was what one would expect under the circumstances. She was shot at point-blank range. As she lay mortally wounded on the floor, for what would turn out to be her last moments on Earth, she was in need of immediate spiritual strength and touchingly turned to God.

As life drained from her body, the two employees could hear her murmuring the Our Father, the prayer composed by Our Lord Himself, in a faint voice.

The assailant fled the scene but was later apprehended. Jamie lived long enough to be taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. However, she did not cease praying and with her dying breath was heard whispering that same prayer as her short life came to a glorious end.

It would be reasonable for a person who relishes the memory of this brave lady’s heroic sacrifice to ask, why does such a story move us so much? It is because what we see with Jamie’s heroic defense of purity is the overarching luminosity of that which was best in her: honor.2

 

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A World That Is Devastated and Without Honor

This forgotten quality has several defining characteristics. First of all, it is the virtue whereby we esteem that which is excellent. This is not a difficult thing to do in the soul-stirring case of a Catholic wife and mother who looks down the barrel of a loaded gun and unhesitatingly chooses death to dishonor.

Secondly, honor is also the quality that drives a person to live up to that excellence in all things. For example, those who care about their honor will not only maintain their purity, they will also seek to practice all virtues because of the love of principle, whether it is convenient to do so or not.

Finally, there are moments in a person’s life that could be defined as an “H-hour” or the all-or-nothing moment. It is a circumstance that asks a person to go above and beyond what they, or anyone who knows them, think they are capable of achieving. When faithful in those moments, the fullness of honor is seen, and along with it, a series of other qualities and virtues appear in the background, as it were, like an angel.

It is for this reason that Jamie’s heroism is particularly refreshing. The days we live in are not much different from the world defined in the Book of Maccabees as being “devastated and without honor.” Therefore, it is in licentious and self-centered times like our own that honor has more brilliance for the simple fact that it stands in stark contrast to the decadence that surrounds us.

 

Bypassing the Pleasures of Life to Do God’s Will

St. Maria Goretti holding a dove vintage Holy Card  America should be very grateful to Mrs. Schmidt for her outstanding example of purity, so very needed in our dissolute times. With her last act, she provided a breath of fresh air in an ugly world. Although she might have been just an “average” lady leading up to the tragic events of November 19th, in one monumental and decisive moment she was catapulted into the pantheon of greatness. It is for this reason that she has been likened to Saint Maria Goretti, the 12-year-old girl who also chose death rather than submit to an equally perverse proposition.

Sadly there are those who, upon hearing Jamie’s story will callously ask, “What was it all worth?” She missed the opportunity to enjoy Thanksgiving with her family and the joyous season of Christmas. She will not see her children grow old nor will she ever be able to caress her grandchildren. While these heart-wrenching considerations are legitimate, especially for mothers reading this article, the all-important lesson of Jamie’s life could be lost. Her final words, while succinct, were at the same time a manifesto on the obligation we all have of being faithful to God’s will, no matter how painful it may be.

However, there are those who will discard such reflections and look upon Jamie as the defeated one who lost out on life’s legitimate pleasures such as the special times spent with family and friends.. We can thus contrast this attitude with that found in the poignant letter of French King Francis I to his mother after suffering a crushing defeat during the Battle of Pavia in 1525. He had lost militarily but maintained that which he considered most precious.

What the king reputedly said in that letter can be aptly applied to the unforgettable Jamie Schmidt. From the place in eternity she now occupies, Jamie can justly say to those she left behind, “All is lost, save honor.

 

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Footnotes:
1. https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/will-this-be-the-first-american-born-martyr  [back to text]
2. The concepts of honor given here were developed by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira in a series of meetings on the subject given in 1976. He was able to make voluminous commentaries on this subject because he was, in a very eminent way, a man of honor. [back to text]

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 20, 2019

The devotion to the Eucharist is the most noble, because it...

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November 20

 

The devotion to the Eucharist is the most noble, because
it has God as its object; it is the most profitable for salvation,
because It gives us the Author of Grace;
it is the sweetest, because the Lord is Sweetness Itself.

Pope St. Pius X


DEFEND Our Lady's HONOR !

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Edmund the Martyr

The barbarian leader, Ingvar, offered to let the King live o...

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St. Edmund the Martyr

Though only about fifteen years old when crowned in 855, Edmund showed himself a model ruler from the first, anxious to treat all with equal justice, and closing his ears to flatterers and untrustworthy informers. In his eagerness for prayer he retired for a year to his royal tower at Hunstanton and learned the whole Psalter by heart, in order that he might afterwards recite it regularly.

In 870 Edmund bravely repulsed the two Danish chiefs, Hinguar and Hubba, who had invaded his dominions. However, they soon returned with overwhelming numbers, and pressed terms upon him which as a Christian he felt bound to refuse. In his desire to avert a fruitless massacre, he disbanded his troops and himself retired towards Framlingham; on the way he fell into the hands of the invaders. Having loaded the king with chains, his captors conducted him to Hinguar, whose impious demands he again rejected, declaring his religion dearer to him than his very life.

His martyrdom took place in 870 at Hoxne in Suffolk. After beating him with cudgels, the Danes tied him to a tree, and cruelly tore his flesh with whips. Throughout these tortures Edmund continued to call upon the name of Jesus, until at last, exasperated by his constancy, his enemies began to discharge arrows at him. This cruel sport was continued until his body had the appearance of a porcupine, when Hinguar commanded his head to be struck off.

From his first burial-place at Hoxne his relics were removed in the tenth century to Beodricsworth, since called Bury St. Edmunds, where arose the famous abbey of that name. His feast is observed November 20, and he is represented in Christian art with sword and arrow, the instruments of his torture.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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