Daily Update: Saturday, April 18th, 2015

Cornelia Connelly

Today is the Remembrance of Venerable Cornelia Connelly, Religious (died 1879) and the birthday of my Internet friend Jessica in California.

Cornelia Connelly was born as Cornelia Peacock in 1809 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In December 1831 she married Pierce Connelly, an Episcopal priest, and the two moved to Natchez, Mississippi, where Pierce had accepted the rectorship of the Holy Trinity Episcopal church. Their first two children, Mercer and Adeline, were born in Natchez; then in August 1835 Pierce resigned his pastorate, and Cornelia converted to Roman Catholicism at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. They took ship to Europe, and Pierce was received into the Church in Rome as a lay person. In the spring of 1838, on their return from Europe, the Connellys accepted an invitation to live and work at Grand Coteau, Louisiana. In early 1840, still grieving the death of her baby daughter Mary Magdalene, Cornelia made her first retreat of three days. God touched her deeply, and her interior life was profoundly changed. In February 1840, her two-year old son John Henry was playing with his dog when the dog accidentally pushed him into a vat of boiling sugar. He died of severe burns in Cornelia’s arms after 43 hours. (Both John Henry and his baby sister Mary Magdalene are buried in Grand Coteau; when I am there, I always leave flowers on their grave.) From this anguish Cornelia’s lifelong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of Sorrows was born. While she was pregnant with her fifth child in October of the same year, Pierce told her he felt called to the Roman Catholic priesthood. Cornelia agreed to move to Rome; before Pierce could become a priest, Cornelia was obliged to take a vow of chastity and she was encouraged to enter a religious order. In April 1844 Cornelia entered the Sacred Heart Convent at the Trinita dei Monti under special conditions, taking her baby son, Frank, with her. In July 1845 Pierce was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in the Convent chapel. While living at the Trinita, Cornelia began making tentative preparations for a congregation of which she would be the foundress. In 1846, encouraged by Lord Shrewsbury and Bishop Wiseman, she established the first house of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus in England, accompanied by three companions and her two youngest children, Adeline and Frank. There she began to manifest her qualities as a leader in education and spirituality. The beginning of the Society was small and there were many deprivations, but a spirit of joy and peace prevailed; Cornelia was able to inspire in her sisters something of her own serenity in adversity. Soon they were running schools for the poor and needy, and holding day, night, and Sunday classes to accommodate the young factory workers. The order, whose constitution is based on that of the Jesuits, remains devoted to teaching young women, and operates schools primarily in the United States. As her Society grew and her work in education flourished, great personal anguish returned when Pierce renounced his priesthood (not having advanced in the Roman Catholic hierarchy as quickly as he felt his merits deserved) and his Catholic faith and came to England to regain custody of their children. He removed them from the schools they were attending and denied Cornelia all contact with them, hoping thus to force her to return to him as his wife. He even pressed a lawsuit against her that gained notoriety in England, but the courts rejected his claim after a retrial. He spent the rest of his life writing anti-Catholic screeds. The effect on the children was largely negative; her oldest son died alienated from his mother, and her younger children became firmly convinced that Catholicism was to blame for their family’s problems. Today the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus are active in fourteen countries, striving to live the apostolic life as Cornelia did, seeking to meet the wants of the age through works of spiritual mercy. They are engaged in education and related spiritual and pastoral ministries. In 1992 the Catholic Church proclaimed Cornelia Connelly as Venerable, the second step in becoming a Saint; if you know of any miracles that can be attributed to her intercession, please contact the Vatican. And today is the birthday of my Internet friend Jessica in California.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, with a thunderstorm going on; when the power went out at 1:15 am we were already just about dressed for work. On our way to work (there was a large branch of a tree down on our street; our neighborhood was without power, and so was another neighborhood before we got to the center of town) I did my Internet Devotional Reading. After the Pre-Shift Meeting, Richard was on Mini Baccarat, and at about 8:00 am he became the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat and Pai Gow. I started out on the second Three Card Poker table, closed that table, then was on Pai Gow for the rest of the day. On my breaks I continued reading The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman on my Nook.

On our way home from work I continued reading my book, and Richard stopped at Eunice Poultry to get some boudin. Once home from work I set up my medications for next week (two prescriptions to renew on Monday), then read the morning paper. I then headed over to the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. During my Hour the woman who does the Hour after mine asked me if I would cover for her next week, from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm (of course I said yes), and the New Moon arrived at 1:59 pm. When I got home from Adoration Richard and I went to bed. While I was sleeping our New Orleans Pelicans lost their NBA Playoff game with the Golden State Warriors by the score of 99 to 106 (they play their next game in the best-of-seven series on Monday, April 20th), and in the double-header played by our #2 ranked LSU Baseball team with Georgia, our Tigers won the first game 4 to 1 and won the second game 9 to 1. And I did not go to the 4:00 Saturday Anticipation Mass for the Third Sunday of Easter (Alleluia!) I woke up about 6:30 pm, and did today’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Third Sunday of Easter (Alleluia!), also known as Jubilate Sunday. Tomorrow is also the wedding anniversary of my very good friend Nedra and her husband Shelby (1977). Richard and I will head to the casino, and on my breaks I will continue reading The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman on my Nook. Our #2 ranked LSU Baseball team will play the third game of their three-game away series with Georgia tomorrow at noon. In the afternoon I will make my lunch salads for Monday and Tuesday, and I will head to church for the 6:00 pm Mass.

Our Parting Quote on this Saturday afternoon comes to us from Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer. Born in 1914 in Larvik, Norway, he studied Zoology and Geography at University of Oslo. At the same time, he privately studied Polynesian culture and history, consulting what was then the world’s largest private collection of books and papers on Polynesia, owned by Bjarne Kropelien, a wealthy wine merchant in Oslo. After seven terms and consultations with experts in Berlin, a project was developed and sponsored by his zoology professors; he was to visit some isolated Pacific island groups and study how the local animals had found their way there. The events surrounding his stay on the Marquesas, most of the time on Fatu Hiva, were told first in his book Paa Jakt efter Paradiset (Hunt for Paradise, 1938), which was published in Norway but, following the outbreak of World War II, was never translated and largely forgotten. Many years later, having achieved notability with other adventures and books on other subjects, Heyerdahl published a new account of this voyage under the title Fatu Hiva (1974). In 1947 he and five other adventurers went to Peru, constructed a pae-pae raft from balsa wood and other native materials, and sailed the raft west; after a 101 day, 4,300 mile journey across the Pacific Ocean, Kon-Tiki smashed into the reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands on August 7, 1947. Heyerdahl made the voyage to bolster his theory that Polynesia was settled from South America, though anthropologists continue to believe, based on linguistic, physical, and genetic evidence, that Polynesia was settled from west to east, migration having begun from the Asian mainland. Heyerdahl’s book about the expedition, Kon-Tiki (1950), has been translated into over 50 languages, and the documentary film of the expedition, itself entitled Kon-Tiki, won an Academy Award in 1951. In 1955-1956, Heyerdahl organized the Norwegian Archaeological Expedition to Rapa Nui (Easter Island). The expedition published two large volumes of scientific reports (Reports of the Norwegian Archaeological Expedition to Easter Island and the East Pacific) and Heyerdahl later added a third (The Art of Easter Island). His popular book on the subject Aku-Aku: The Secret of Easter Island (1958) was another international best-seller. In 1969 and 1970 Heyerdahl built two boats from papyrus and attempted to cross the Atlantic from Morocco in Africa. Based on drawings and models from ancient Egypt, the first boat, named Ra, was constructed by boat builders from Lake Chad in the Republic of Chad using reed obtained from Lake Tana in Ethiopia and launched into the Atlantic Ocean from the coast of Morocco. After a number of weeks, Ra took on water after its crew made modifications to the vessel that caused it to sag and break apart. The ship was abandoned and the following year, another similar vessel, Ra II, was built by boatmen from Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and likewise set sail across the Atlantic from Morocco, this time with great success. The boat reached Barbados, thus demonstrating that mariners could have dealt with trans-Atlantic voyages by sailing with the Canary Current. A book, The Ra Expeditions (1971), and a film documentary were made about the voyages. Heyerdahl built yet another reed boat, Tigris, which was intended to demonstrate that trade and migration could have linked Mesopotamia with the Indus Valley Civilization in what is now modern-day Pakistan. Tigris was built in Iraq and sailed with its international crew through the Persian Gulf to Pakistan and made its way into the Red Sea. After about 5 months at sea and still remaining seaworthy, the Tigris was deliberately burnt in Djibouti on April 3, 1978 as a protest against the wars raging on every side in the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa. In the years that followed he was often outspoken on issues of international peace and the environment. Heyerdahl made several visits to Azerbaijan between 1980 and 2000 and proposed that Azerbaijan was the site of an ancient advanced civilization. He also investigated the mounds found on the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean; he believed that his finds there fit with his theory of a sea-faring civilization which originated in what is now Sri Lanka, colonized the Maldives, and influenced or founded the cultures of ancient South America and Easter Island. His discoveries were detailed in his book The Maldive Mystery (1987). In 1991 he studied the Pyramids of Güímar on Tenerife in the Canary Islands and declared that they were not random stone heaps but actual pyramids. He believed that he had discovered their special astronomical orientation and claimed that the ancient people who built them were most likely sun worshipers due to the alignment of the pyramids. Heyerdahl advanced a theory according to which the Canaries had been bases of ancient shipping between America and the Mediterranean. His last project was presented in the book Jakten på Odin (The Search for Odin, 2002), in which he initiated excavations in Azov, near the Sea of Azov at the northeast of the Black Sea, and searched for the remains of a civilization to match the account of Snorri Sturluson in the Ynglinga saga, written in 1225; Heyerdahl accepted Snorri’s story as literal truth rather than myth. This project generated harsh criticism and accusations of pseudo-science from historians, archaeologists and linguists in Norway, who accused Heyerdahl of selective use of sources and a basic lack of scientific methodology in his work. The controversy surrounding the search for Odin-project was in many ways typical of the relationship between Heyerdahl and the academic community. His theories rarely won any scientific acceptance, whereas he himself rejected all scientific criticism and concentrated on publishing his theories in popular books aimed at the general public (died 2002): “For every minute, the future is becoming the past.”

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