Today is Good Friday, the commemoration of the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus, a day of Fast and Abstinence. Today is also the First Friday of the month, dedicated to devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Today is also the Optional Memorial of Saint Richard of Chichester, Bishop (died 1253), and today is the birthday of both my cousin Chris in California (1957) and of my Internet friend Michelle in Pennsylvania (1962). And at sunset today begins the great Jewish feast of Pesach, commemorating the Hebrews’ escape from enslavement in Egypt.
The Crucifixion from the Isenheim Altarpiece, by Matthias Grünewald in the early 16th century, was painted for a hospital specializing in skin diseases; it is unique in having John the Baptist at the Crucifixion, as he had died sometime before the Passion of Jesus, according to the New Testament. (I always said I wanted a print of this painting to put in the baby’s room, but never got around to it, and now the babies are grown up and out of the house. My first grandchild is due in May of this year; perhaps I will find an art print of this painting to send to Matthew and Callie for the baby’s room.) Today is a day of both Fast and Abstinence; only one full meal in the day is permitted (one can have two smaller meals, not to equal a full meal), and no meat. The Service (no celebration of Mass is celebrated on this day) generally begins at 3:00 pm, the hour at which Christ died. The liturgy consists of three parts: the Liturgy of the Word, the Veneration of the Cross, and Holy Communion. During the Liturgy of the Word, the Passion from the Gospel of John is read, with the priest reading the words of Jesus and the congregation reading the group responses. This part concludes with a series of prayers for the Church, the Pope, the clergy and laity of the Church, those preparing for baptism, the unity of Christians, the Jewish people, those who do not believe in Christ, those who do not believe in God, those in public office, and those in special need. The second part of the Good Friday liturgy is the Veneration of the Cross: a crucifix, not necessarily the one that is normally on or near the altar at other times, is solemnly displayed to the congregation and then venerated by them, individually if possible, while special chants are sung. The Service concludes with the distribution of Holy Communion, using hosts consecrated at the evening Mass on Holy Thursday, after which the congregation leaves the church in silence. The Way of the Cross may be said during the Service, or at some other time of the day. It should be noted that the Easter Triduum Liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil are not three separate liturgies, but one single liturgy. The Holy Thursday liturgy has a Greeting, but it does not have a Concluding Rite; the Good Friday Service has neither a Greeting nor a Concluding Rite, and the Easter Vigil does not have a Greeting, but does have a Concluding Rite. Turning to today’s Saint, Richard de Wychin was born about 1197 at Droitwich, Worcestershire, England; the father of today’s Saint died when Richard was young. The family fell upon hard times, but as soon as he became old enough he took over the management of his family’s estates and brought them back to prosperity. Educated at Oxford, Paris and Bologna, he became the Chancellor of Oxford University. He was the legal advisor to Saint Edmund Rich and Saint Boniface of Savoy, the Archbishops of Canterbury. After being ordained priest, he was named Bishop of Chichester in 1244. The new bishop showed much eagerness to reform the manners and morals of his clergy, and also to introduce greater order and reverence into the services of the Church. His episcopate was also marked by the favor which he showed to the Dominicans and by his earnestness in preaching a crusade. Miracles and cures occurred at his shrine in Chichester. He is the Patron Saint of Chichester, of Sussex, and of coachmen; he is most known today for his Prayer, “Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ For all the benefits Thou hast given me, For all the pains and insults Which Thou has borne for me. O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother, May I know Thee more clearly, Love Thee more dearly, Follow Thee more nearly, Day by day. Amen.” Today is also the birthday of both my cousin Chris in California (1957) and of my Internet friend Michelle in Pennsylvania (1962). Pesach, or Passover, begins on the 15th day of the month of Nisan (equivalent to March and April in Gregorian calendar), the first month of the Hebrew calendar’s festival year according to the Hebrew Bible. In the narrative of the Exodus, the Bible tells that YHWH inflicted ten plagues upon the Egyptians before Pharaoh would release his Hebrew slaves, with the tenth plague being the killing of all of the firstborn, from the Pharaoh’s son to the firstborn of the dungeon captive, to the firstborn of cattle. The Hebrews were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a spring lamb and, upon seeing this, the spirit of the Lord passed over these homes, hence the term “passover”. When Pharaoh freed the Hebrews, it is said that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread to rise. In commemoration, for the duration of Passover, no leavened bread is eaten, for which reason it is called “The Festival of the Unleavened Bread”. Matzo (unleavened bread) is the primary symbol of the holiday. On this night it is traditional for Jewish families to gather for a special dinner called a seder (derived from the Hebrew word for “order”, referring to the very specific order of the ritual). The table is set with the finest china and silverware to reflect the importance of the meal. During this meal, the story of the Exodus from Egypt is retold using a special text called the Haggadah. Four cups of wine are consumed at various stages in the narrative. The Haggadah divides the night’s procedure into 15 parts which parallel the 15 steps in the Temple in Jerusalem on which the Levites stood during Temple services. Audience participation and interaction is the rule, and many families’ seders last long into the night with animated discussions and much singing. The seder concludes with additional songs of praise and faith printed in the Haggadah, including “Chad Gadya” (“One Kid Goat”). (According to the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), the Passover was on Thursday evening, which made the Last Supper a Passover Seder. According to the Gospel of John, after his Crucifixion Jesus was buried quickly because the “solemn Sabbath” of Passover was about to begin.)
Last night I went to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, arriving home at 8:15 pm, at which point I went to bed. Our #3 ranked LSU Baseball team won the first game of their three-game away series with Alabama by the score of 8 to 5.
This morning I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and Richard put the tree root removal crystals down the outlet to the sewer pipes while I flushed both bathroom commodes. We then headed off to work, with me doing my Internet Devotional Reading and saying the First Day of my Divine Mercy Novena. I then requested Incrementalists by Steve Brust (my next Sci-Fi Fantasy Book Club Book) and The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith (again; I didn’t go to Lafayette on Thursday, so I canceled my hold) from the Lafayette Public Library. When we got to the casino we had Amish Friendship Bread from Deborah. When we clocked in, Richard was the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat and Pai Gow; he also broke the third Mississippi Stud table on his first rotation, and broke the Three Card Blackjack table on his first two rotations. I was on Mini Baccarat, with a dead table from about 6:00 am until 11:00 am. Midway through our shift I got a very light breakfast. Today was a Paid Holiday, so Richard and I got time and a half for our eight hours worked today.
When we got off of work I sent a text to Michelle asking if she was going to meet us for crawfish. On our way home Richard stopped to get gas for the truck, and I finished reading the January 2015 issue of National Geographic. When we got home I had an affirmative text from Michelle, and I ate the rest of the baby swiss cheese and a few Keebler© Pecan Sandies while I read the morning paper. I took a short one-hour nap, then left the house for church. When I arrived I sent a text to Michelle advising her that we would meet her at College Junction for crawfish at 5:30 pm. I then attended the Good Friday Service. Rosemary (the wife of Richard’s brother Slug here in town) was there, and I spoke to her after the Service; Richard’s brother Butch is due in town on Monday (Rosemary does his taxes), and I told her to let us know he does come into town. I got home at 4:30 pm, and started today’s Daily Update. At 5:00 pm Michelle came by the house. At 5:30 pm we headed over to Mudbugs (aka College Junction), where Richard got a shrimp poboy and Michelle and I got the boiled crawfish (with potatoes, but without the corn we had asked for). The crawfish were good, but not as good as we had had there before (Michelle was getting frustrated peeling hers), and we left a $2.00 tip, which I think was about $2.00 too much. We got home at 6:45 pm (Michelle had driven herself and headed on to her trailer), and got on the computer to finish this Daily Update before getting ready for bed. Our #3 ranked LSU Baseball team will be playing the second game of their three-game away series with Alabama tonight, and our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing an away game with the Sacramento Kings; I will report on the scores of both games in tomorrow’s Daily Update.
Tomorrow is the first full day of Pesach. It is also Holy Saturday, and the First Saturday of the month, dedicated to devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Isidore, Bishop and Doctor, and we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And tomorrow is my daughter Michelle’s birthday (1988). We will head to work (tomorrow is the last day this Lent that I need to bring my insulated bag containing a couple of cans of Caffeine Free Diet Coke to drink on my way home from work each day) and work our eight hours. There is a Total Lunar Eclipse tomorrow starting at 4:01 am local time and lasting until 9:59 am local time (naturally, we will be working), and the Full Moon will arrive at 7:07 am. When we get home from work I will eat my lunch salad and go to bed; I do not have my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration tomorrow, because after the Holy Thursday liturgy the Adoration Chapel is closed, and does not reopen until Easter Sunday. Our #3 ranked LSU Baseball team will play the last game of their three-game away series with Alabama in the afternoon. I will wake up about 6:00 pm or so and do my Daily Update. I will then head to the church for the Easter Vigil Mass, which will start at 8:00 pm and will last until 10:00 pm or so; when I get home from that I will eat some chocolate, then I will go straight to bed for an hour or two. And our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing an away game with the Portland Trailblazers tomorrow evening.
Our Parting Quote on this Good Friday afternoon as Pesach begins comes to us from Eddie Robinson, American football coach. Born Edward Robinson in 1919 in Jackson, Louisiana, he was the son of a sharecropper and a domestic worker. He graduated from McKinley Senior High School in Baton Rouge in 1937 and earned his bachelor’s degree from Leland College in Baker in East Baton Rouge Parish. In 1941 he became head football coach at historically black Grambling State University in Grambling, in northern Louisiana, and remained in that position for fifty-six years. While at Grambling Robinson held several jobs other than football coach, including teaching at Grambling High School and coaching the girls’ basketball team during World War II. His girls’ team lost the state championship by 1 point. He also coached boys’ basketball, baseball, directed band and was in charge of the cheerleaders, with a budget of $46. He obtained his Master’s degree from the University of Iowa in Iowa City in 1954. He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans. During his tenure Robinson established himself as the winningest coach in Division I-AA college football history with 408 wins. He is second overall in college football victories at any level, behind the 489 wins owned by John Gagliardi of Division III St. John’s University (Minnesota). More than 200 of his players went on to play in the American Football League and in the NFL. Robinson coached three American Football League players who would later be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame: the Kansas City Chiefs’ Buck Buchanan; the Oakland Raiders’ Willie Brown; and the Houston Oilers’ Charlie Joiner. Robinson also coached James Harris, who with the AFL’s Buffalo Bills became the first black quarterback in modern Pro Football history to start at that position in a season opener. He also coached Packers defensive end and Hall of Famer Willie Davis and the Super Bowl XXII MVP, Redskins quarterback Doug Williams, who would ultimately succeed Robinson as Grambling’s head coach in 1998. During his coaching career, Robinson compiled 45 winning seasons, including winning or sharing 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference championships and nine black college football national championships. After several losing seasons in the 1990s, pressure mounted for him to resign. In 1997 news escaped that Grambling was planning to dismiss him. Public outcry (including condemnation from Louisiana elected officials) led Grambling to retain Robinson’s services through the remainder of the season. He retired in 1997 with an overall record of 408 wins, 165 losses and 15 ties; that same year he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Super Bowl XXXII, played at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego in January 1998, was dedicated to Robinson. He was accompanied onto the field by Williams and Joe Gibbs to perform the ceremonial coin toss. After his retirement he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease (died 2007): “People talk about the record I’ve compiled at Grambling, but the real record is the fact that for over 50 years I’ve had one job and one wife. I don’t believe anybody can out-American me.”