Daily Update: Friday, February 20th, 2015

Jacinto and Franciso Marto

Today is the Optional Memorial of Blessed Jacinta Marto (died 1920) and Blessed Francisco Marto (died 1919). And today is a Friday in Lent, so today is a Day of Abstinence from meat.

Francisco Marto (born 1908), Jacinta Marto (born 1910), and their cousin Lúcia dos Santos (1907–2005) were the children from Aljustrel near Fátima, Portugal, who said they reported witnessed three apparitions of an angel in 1916 and several apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1917. Their visions of Our Lady of Fátima proved politically controversial and gave rise to a major center of world Christian pilgrimage. Following their experiences, their fundamental personalities remained the same. Francisco preferred to pray alone, as he said “to console Jesus for the sins of the world”. Jacinta was deeply affected by a terrifying vision of Hell reportedly shown to the children at the third apparition. She became deeply convinced of the need to save sinners through penance and sacrifice as the Virgin had reportedly instructed the children to do. All three children, but particularly Francisco and Jacinta, practiced stringent self-mortifications to this end. The Marto siblings were victims of the great 1918 influenza epidemic which swept through Europe in 1918. Both lingered for many months, insisting on walking to church to make Eucharistic devotions and prostrating themselves to pray for hours, kneeling with their heads on the ground as instructed by the angel who had first appeared to them. Francisco declined hospital treatment and died peacefully at home, while Jacinta was dragged from one hospital to another in an attempt to save her life which she insisted was futile. She developed purulent pleurisy and endured an operation in which two of her ribs were removed. Because of the condition of her heart, she could not be anesthetized and suffered terrible pain, which she said would help to convert many sinners. On February 20, 1920, Jacinta asked the hospital chaplain who heard her confession to bring her Holy Communion and give her the Anointing of the Sick because she was going to die “this very night”. He told her that her condition was not that serious, and that he would return the next day. A few hours later Jacinta was dead. She had died, as she had often said she would, alone: not even a nurse was with her. The cause for the siblings’ canonization was begun during 1946. In 1937 Pope Pius XI decided that causes for minors should not be accepted as they could not fully understand heroic virtue or practice it repeatedly, both of which are essential for canonization. For the next four decades, no sainthood processes for children were pursued. In 1979 the bishop of Leiria-Fatima asked all the world’s bishops to write to the Pope, petitioning him to make an exception for Francisco, who had died at age 11, and Jacinta, who had died at age 10. More than 300 bishops sent letters to the Pope, writing that “the children were known, admired and attracted people to the way of sanctity. Favors were received through their intercession.” The bishops also said that the children’s canonization was a pastoral necessity for the children and teenagers of the day. In 1979 the Congregation for the Causes of Saints convened a general assembly. Cardinals, bishops, theologians and other experts debated whether it was possible for children to display heroic virtue. Eventually, they decided that, like the very few children who have a genius for music or mathematics, “in some supernatural way, some children could be spiritual prodigies.” Francisco and Jacinta were thus declared venerable by Pope John Paul II in 1989. On May 13, 2000 (when their fellow visionary, Lúcia dos Santos, was a nun aged 93), they were declared “blessed” in a decree from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Jacinta is the youngest non-martyred child ever to be beatified. They are the Patrons of people ridiculed for their piety, sick people, and captives, and their aid is invoked against bodily ills and sickness. Today is also a Friday in Lent, so today is a day of Abstinence from Meat.

On Thursday our LSU Women’s Basketball beat Georgia by the score of 64 to 52. Our Lady Tigers will next play an Away game with Arkansas on the 22nd.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and remembered to bring some cans of Caffeine Free Diet Coke to work to put in the break room refrigerator for my ride home. (I will be doing this on every work day through Holy Saturday.) On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Once at work we found that we had Amish Friendship Bread from Deborah. When we clocked in Richard was on Mini Baccarat, and I was on Mississippi Stud. Early in my shift I was not feeling well, so I went to the gift shop on my first break and got some Pepto-Bismol©. On my later breaks I started reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.

On our way home Richard suggested that we get seafood poboys from D.C.’s Sports Bar and Steakhouse, since we were likely to sleep through dinner. We got our poboys, and once home we ate our poboys and read the morning paper. I then went to bed for the rest of the day. Our New Orleans Pelicans lost their game with the Orlando Magic by the score of 84 to 95. And our LSU Baseball team won the first game of their doubleheader with Boston College by the score of 8 to 3, and won the second game of their doubleheader with Boston College by the score of 7 to 4. And I did not do my Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Peter Damien, Bishop and Doctor. On my breaks at work I will do my Daily Update, and continue reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. After lunch I will go to the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. Our LSU Men’s Basketball will play a home game with Florida, our LSU Baseball team will finish their series with Boston College, and our New Orleans Pelicans will play an away game with the Miami Heat.

Our Parting Quote this Friday afternoon in Lent comes to us from Peter A. Rona, American oceanographer. Born in 1934 in Trenton, New Jersey, he earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from Brown University in 1956 and a master’s in geology from Yale University in 1957. Working for Standard Oil from 1957 to 1959, he explored the Southwestern U.S. for future refinery sites. While visiting his family in December 1958, he met oceanographers, in New York for a meeting, who mentioned a new oceanic ecology. He returned to school, researching oceanographic gear at Columbia University, and received a Ph.D. in marine geology and geophysics from Yale in 1967. He went on to explore the Atlantic Ocean for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), using dredges, cameras and echo sounders that mapped the seabed. He dived in miniature submarines dozens of times, led scientific expeditions, wrote hundreds of papers, published an atlas of the central North Atlantic seabed and served as a consultant to the United Nations on seafloor mineral resources. While doing so, Rona found a hot spring along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in 1985. Not only did the hot spring yield valuable metals, such as gold and silver, but they also were an ecosystem of lifeforms never seen before. Rona wrote about the hot-springs discovery in National Geographic magazine in October 1992, saying the rising currents “shimmered like heat waves on desert sand.” The 2003 IMAX film, Volcanoes of the Deep Sea, documented Rona’s and his colleague Richard A. Lutz’s excursions of the oceanic hot springs. Rona and Lutz had been scouring the ocean floors for the organism Paleodictyon nodosum, believed to be one of the Earth’s earliest complex life forms, or one of the oldest “living fossils”. No living creatures have been found, only thousands of their formed hexagonal patterns. In 1987 the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded Rona its gold medal for exceptional scientific contributions to the nation. He joined Rutgers in 1994 as a professor (died 2014): “I was one of those kids who collected rocks and minerals, climbed mountains, loved the outdoors and identified with geology.”

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