Daily Update: April 28, 2012

Louis Marie de Montfort, Peter Chanel, and Gianna Beretta Molla and Jazzfest poster 2012

Today we honor we honor Saint Louis Mary de Montfort, Priest (died 1716), Saint Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr (died 1841), and Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, Wife and Mother (died 1962). Today is also the Second Day of the First Weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, known far and wide as Jazz Fest.

Today’s first Saint was born into a poor family as Louis Mary Grignion in 1673 at Montfort-La-Cane, Brittany, France. While a seminarian in Paris, he delighted in researching the writings of  the Church Fathers, Doctors and Saints as they related to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom he was singularly devoted. As an adult he identified himself not by his family name of Grignion, but by the place of his baptism, Montfort. Ordained in 1700, and under Mary’s inspiration, he founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Divine Wisdom, a religious institute of women devoted to the care of the destitute. During this work, he began his apostolate of preaching the Rosary and authentic Marian devotion. He preached so forcefully and effectively against the errors of Jansenism that he was expelled from several dioceses in France. In Rome Pope Clement XI conferred on him the title and authority of Missionary Apostolic, which enabled him to continue his apostolate after returning to France. He preached Mary everywhere and to everyone. A member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic, Louis was one of the greatest apostles of the Rosary in his day, and by means his miraculously inspiring book, The Secret of the Rosary, he is still so today; the most common manner of reciting the Rosary is the method that originated with Saint Louis’s preaching. In 1715 he founded a missionary band known as the Company of Mary. The cause for his declaration as a Doctor of the Church is now being pursued. We also honor Saint Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr (died 1841). Born in 1803 at Cuet, Ain, France as Peter Louis Mary Chanel, his was a peasant family, and he was a shepherd as a boy. An excellent student at seminary, he was ordained in 1827 at age 24 and assigned to Crozet, a parish in decline; he turned it around, in part because of his ministry to the sick, and brought about a spiritual revival. He wished to become a missionary, and joined the Society of Mary (Marist Fathers) in 1831; he then taught at their Belley seminary for five years. In 1836 he led a band of missionaries to the South West Pacific, an area where cannibalism had only recently been outlawed. On the island of Futuna Chanel converted many to Christianity, often as a result of his work with the sick; he also learned the local language, and taught in the local school. The group was initially well received by the island’s king, Niuliki, but once the missionaries learned the local language and began preaching directly to the people, the king grew restive. He believed that Christianity would take away his prerogatives as high priest and king. When the king’s son, Meitala, sought to be baptized, the king sent a favoured warrior, his son-in-law, Musumusu, to “do whatever was necessary” to resolve the problem. Musumusu initially went to Meitala and the two fought. Musumusu, injured in the fracas, went to Chanel’s hut feigning need of medical attention; when Chanel turned away to get his medical supplies, Musumusu clubbed Chanel on the head, killing him. Early the next year a French ship disintered his remains, and they arrived back in France in 1850. Meanwhile, the entire island of Funuta was converted to Catholicism; Musumusu himself converted and as he lay dying expressed the desire that he be buried outside the church at Poi (erected over the spot where Chanel was martyred) so that those who came to revere Peter Chanel in the Church would walk over his grave to get to it. The Saint’s relics were returned to Futuna in 1977, and rest in a place of honor in the church. He was the first Martyr in Oceania, and is the Patron Saint of Oceania and of World Youth Day. Our third Saint is Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, Wife and Mother (died 1962). Born in 1922 in Magenta, Italy as Gianna Beretta, she grew up in Lombardy. In 1942 she began her study of medicine in Milan. Outside of her schooling she was active in Azione Cattolica. She received a medical diploma in 1949 and opened an office in Mesero, near her hometown of Magenta, where she specialized in pediatrics. She hoped to join her brother, a missionary priest in Brazil, where she intended to offer her medical expertise in gynecology to poor women. However, her chronic ill health made this impractical, and she continued her practice in Italy. In 1955 she married Pietro Molla; in the next few year she had three children and two miscarriages. In 1961 she was again pregnant, and in her second month was diagnosed with a fibroma on her uterus. Given the choices of an abortion, a complete hysterectomy, or removal of only the fibroma, Gianna Molla opted for procedure that would not result in the death of the fetus. The fibroma was removed, and she had complications throughout the pregnancy, but maintained that given a choice, she would always choose the baby’s life over her own. On April 21, 1962, Good Friday of that year, Gianna Molla went to the hospital, where her fourth child, Gianna Emanuela, was successfully delivered via Caesarean section. However, Gianna Molla continued to have severe pain, and died of septic peritonitis 7 days after the birth. She was beatified in 1994 and canonized in 2004; for the first time in the history of the church, a husband witnessed his wife’s canonisation. Today is the second day of the first weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The official food policy of the Festival is “no carnival food.” Indeed, there are more than seventy food booths, all with unique food items, including, but not limited to, Mango Freeze, crawfish beignets, cochon de lait sandwiches, alligator sausage poorboy, boiled crawfish, softshell crab poorboy, crawfish Monica, and many other dishes. Today at Jazz Fest one can hear The Pine Leaf Boys, Ce Lo Green, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

On our way to work I did my Devotional Reading; once at work, we attended the WIG Meeting and headed out to the casino floor. Richard was on Pai-Gow all day, on a table that never went dead (he also dropped more than $600 in tips), and I was on a Blackjack table that was dead from 5:00 am to 9:00 am. On my breaks I put in for six hours of PTO to cover the time I got off early on Tuesday (Richard put in for his six hours yesterday) and finished reading The First Salute: A View of the American Revolution by Barbara Tuchman.

Once home from work, I set up my medications for next week (two prescriptions to renew on Friday), then ate my lunch salad and read the morning paper while Richard paid bills. I then went to the Adoration Chapel for my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration, and read a bit in Activation of Energy: Enlightening Reflections on Spiritual Energy by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Translated by René Hague, which I either need to read more in or give up reading. When I got home, Richard was out at the store; I took a nap from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, then plugged the bills Richard had paid into my financial software and did my Book Review for this weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts for The First Salute: A View of the American Revolution by Barbara Tuchman while eating my dinner of baked chicken breasts and steamed broccoli.

Tomorrow is Sunday; after work, I may take a nap, but I will certainly go to the 6:00 pm Mass at church. Also, I need to do the Weekly Computer Maintenance, which I did not do last Sunday.

Our Saturday afternoon Parting Quote comes to us from Dabbs Greer, American actor. Born in 1917 as Robert Greer in Fairview, Missouri, he moved with his family while still an infant to Anderson, Missouri. He was eight when he began acting in children’s theater productions. He attended Drury University in Springfield, Missouri where he earned a BA and headed the drama department and Little Theatre in Mountain Grove, Missouri, from 1940-43. He then moved on to the famed Pasadena Playhouse in California as actor, instructor and administrator from 1943-50. He made his film debut in Reign of Terror (1949) (aka The Black Book) in an uncredited bit part. Greer was recognizable to fans of the television series The Adventures of Superman, as he appeared in three separate episodes on that show, including the series’ inaugural entry, “Superman on Earth” (1952) where he played the first person to ever be saved by Superman. In the 1958 film I Want to Live! he played the San Quentin captain who finished strapping down Barbara Graham in the gas chamber prior to her execution and was the last person to speak to her. Most of his work, however, was in television shows; he was a regular on Gunsmoke as the merchant Mr. Jonas, track coach Ossie Weiss in Hank, and Sheriff Norris “Norrie” Coolidge in The Ghost & Mrs. Muir. Greer had a prominent continuing role in the NBC series Little House on the Prairie as Reverend Robert Alden from 1974 to 1983. Often cast as a minister, he performed the marriages of Rob and Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show and of Mike and Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch, and he tended to the spiritual needs of the townfolk in fictional Rome, Wisconsin, as Reverend Henry Novotny in Picket Fences. In the May 9, 1991, episode of L.A. Law called “On the Toad Again”, he played a character who was addicted to a “high” produced by licking the skin secretions of psychoactive toads. In his last film, The Green Mile (1999), he played the elderly version of Tom Hanks’ Death Row officer Paul Edgecomb (died 2007): “Every character actor, in their own little sphere, is the lead.”

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