Daily Update: Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Holy Thursday and Francis of Paola and Louisiana Tax Freedom Day

Today is Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday. Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Francis of Paola, Hermit (died 1507). Today is also Louisiana Tax Freedom Day. And on this date in 2002 I met with my old friend Nedra from high school again, after having lost track of her along about 1980. (Thank you, Classmates.com.)

On Holy Thursday morning all of the priests and deacons gather in the Cathedral of their diocese for the Chrism Mass with their Bishop. The Chrism Oil (used in the Catholic sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and Holy Orders), the Oil of the Catechumens (used in the Sacrament of baptism), and the Oil of the Sick (used in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick) for the whole diocese are blessed by the bishop, then all the priests renew their vows. After Mass the oils are distributed to each parish’s representatives (i.e., the priests and deacons of a parish). In the evening in each parish is held the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which initiates the Easter Triduum, the three days of Friday, Saturday and Sunday that commemorate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. The blessed chrism and oils are brought in procession to their proper place in the church, and after the homily the Washing of Feet takes place. This action gives the day its other name of Maundy Thursday, from the Latin phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos,” “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another,” the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John (13:34) by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet. The service concludes with a procession taking the Blessed Sacrament to the place of reposition, with a period of Eucharistic Adoration at the place of reposition; the altar in the church is then stripped of all coverings. Technically, Lent ends with the start of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, but all my life I have continued my Lenten penance until I go to Mass for Easter, and I see no reason to stop doing so at this point in my life. (I can wait a few more days for chocolate.) Turning to today’s Saint, Francis was born in 1416 at Paola, Calabria (part of modern Italy). His parents were childless for many years, but following prayers for the intercession of Saint Francis of Assisi, they had three children, with Francis being the oldest. Following a pilgrimage in his teens to Rome and Assisi in Italy, he became a hermit in a cave near Paola. Before he was 20 years old he began to attract followers; by the 1450’s the followers had become so numerous that he established a Rule for them and sought Church approval. This was the founding of the Hermits of Saint Francis of Assisi, who were approved by the Holy See in 1474. In 1492 they were renamed the Franciscan Order of Minim Friars, which means they count themselves the least of the family of God. He was reported to be a prophet and a miracle worker, with the ability to read minds. In 1464 Francis wanted to cross the Straits of Messina to reach Sicily, but a boatman refused to take him. Francis laid his cloak on the water, tied one end to his staff to make a sail, and sailed across with his companions. Franz Liszt wrote a piece of music inspired by the incident. He was the defender of the poor and oppressed. He gave unwanted counsel and admonitions to King Ferdinand of Naples and his sons, and traveled to Paris at the request of Pope Sixtus IV to help Louis XI prepare for death. He used this position to influence the course of national politics, helping restore peace between France and Brittany by advising a marriage between the ruling families, and restoring peace between France and Spain by persuading Louis XI to return some disputed land. He is the Patron Saint of Calabria, of Panama, and of boatmen, mariners, and naval officers. Today is also Louisiana Tax Freedom Day 2015, when on a national average basis the residents of Louisiana have worked enough to pay for their 2015 taxes. (National Tax Freedom Day this year is April 24th; Louisiana has the earliest State Tax Freedom Day this year. My Two or Three Loyal Readers may go to the National Tax Freedom Day website to see when Tax Freedom Day 2015 will occurs in their own states.) Finally, on this date in 2002 I met with my old friend Nedra from high school again, after having lost track of her along about 1980.

Last night our New Orleans Pelicans won their game against the Los Angeles Lakers by the score of 113 to 92.

I woke up with my alarm, decided against going to the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral in Lafayette, and went back to sleep. Richard gathered up the trash and put the trash can out on the curb. I woke up at 10:00 am, did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, did my Internet Devotional Reading, posted to Facebook that today is Louisiana Tax Freedom Day 2015, put the outgoing mail in our mailbox, and read the Thursday papers.

Richard and I left the house at 12:00 pm; we ate lunch at D.C.’s Sports Bar and Steakhouse, then at the Hit-n-Run I purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for Saturday night’s drawing. At Wal-Mart I purchased some household items and my salad supplies.

We arrived back home at 1:30 pm, and I uploaded my photos from March 2015 to the hard drive of the computer. I gathered up the aluminum cans and tossed the bag of cans in the garage, then I put up my Palm Sunday palms, putting the fancy palms from the Cathedral behind the Sacred Heart statue, and putting the regular palms from my church behind all the crosses in the house (and on the porch), and in our vehicles. I then made my lunch salads for Saturday and Sunday (more anon). At 4:30 pm we watched Jeopardy!, and at 5:00 pm I came to the computer with my Digiorno’s Pepperoni Pizza to do today’s Daily Update. (I was on the point of telling Richard not to get the Digiorno’s pizzas any more, because there was such a strong taste to them. I found out just this afternoon that, before putting them in the oven, Richard has been seasoning the pizzas with Cajun seasoning.) Once I finish this Daily Update, I will be heading over to the Church for the 6:30 pm Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which begins the Easter Triduum (known to Liz Ellen and I as the Catholic Triple Crown). When I get back home I will go straight to bed.

Tomorrow is Good Friday, a day of Fast and Abstinence for the Catholic faithful. It is also the First Friday of the month, dedicated to devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Richard of Chichester, Bishop. It is also the birthday of my first cousin Chris in California (1956) and my Internet friend Michelle in Pennsylvania (1962). And tomorrow at sunset begins the great Jewish feast of Pesach, or Passover. Our #3 ranked LSU Baseball team will be playing the first game of their three-game away series with Alabama tonight; I will report the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update. Tomorrow we will head to work for the beginning of our work week; since Good Friday is a paid holiday, we will be paid time and a half for the hours we work tomorrow. I will not be eating a lunch salad tomorrow, as I will be fasting, with only one full meal (more anon). At 3:00 pm I will head to the church for the Good Friday service; when I come home from that at about 5:00 pm, Richard and I will head to College Junction to eat boiled crawfish for dinner. Tomorrow evening our #3 ranked LSU Baseball team will be playing the second game of their three-game away series with Alabama, Pesach begins, and our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing an away game with the Sacramento Kings.

Our Holy Thursday Afternoon Parting Quote comes to us from Elizabeth Catlett, American-born Mexican sculptor and printmaker. Born on 1915 in Washington, D.C., she attended Howard University where she studied design, printmaking and drawing; her love was sculpture, but she changed her major to painting because there was no sculpture division at Howard at the time. She received her BS cum laude from Howard in 1935 and worked as a high school teacher in North Carolina but left after two years, frustrated by the low teaching salaries for black people. In 1940 Catlett became the first student to receive an M.F.A. in sculpture at the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History. While there, she was influenced by American landscape painter Grant Wood, who urged students to work with the subjects they knew best. For Catlett, this meant black people, and especially black women, and it was at this point that her work began to focus on African Americans. Her piece Mother and Child, done in limestone in 1939 for her thesis, won first prize in sculpture at the American Negro Exposition in Chicago in 1940. She studied ceramics at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1941, lithography at the Art Students League of New York in 1942-1943, and with sculptor Ossip Zadkine in New York in 1944. Catlett became the “promotion director” for the George Washington Carver School in Harlem located at 57 W. 125th St.; she was briefly married to one of the teachers. In 1946 Catlett received a Rosenwald Fund Fellowship that allowed her to travel to Mexico where she studied wood carving with Jose L. Ruiz and ceramic sculpture with Francisco Zúñiga, at the Escuela de Pintura y Escultura, Esmeralda, Mexico. In 1947 she married Mexican artist Francisco Mora, and made Mexico her permanent home, later becoming a Mexican citizen. In Mexico she worked with the Taller de Gráfica Popular (People’s Graphic Arts Workshop), a group of printmakers organized in 1937 by Leopoldo Méndez, Raúl Anguiano, Luis Arenal, and Pablo O’Higgins and dedicated to using their art to promote social change. There she and other artists created a series of linoleum cuts on black heroes. She became the first female professor of sculpture and head of the sculpture department at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, School of Fine Arts, San Carlos, in Mexico City, in 1958, and taught there until retiring in 1975. She was active in the art community of Cuernavaca, Morelos. Catlett’s statue of Louis Armstrong was dedicated in Louis Armstrong Park, New Orleans, in 1976. In 1980 Catlett donated a collection of her personal papers, exhibition catalogs, and other documentary materials to the Archives of American Art in the Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian Art Collectors Program commissioned Catlett in 1995 to create a print to benefit the educational and cultural programs put on by the Smithsonian Associates. The resulting lithograph, Children With Flowers, highlights the unity and diversity of children, and hangs in the ongoing exhibit Graphic Eloquence in the S. Dillon Ripley Center on the National Mall in the District of Columbia. In 2003 Catlett designed a memorial to author Ralph Ellison, which stands in West Harlem, New York. That same year she was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award, International Sculpture Center, and in 2008 Catlett was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (died 2012): “Art is only important to the extent that it aids in the liberation of our people.”

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