Today is the First Saturday of the month, dedicated to devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Today is the Memorial of Saint Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor (died 373) and the Optional Memorial of Saint Wiborada, Religious and Martyr (died 926). The Kentucky Derby is today, and today is also the Third Day of the Second Weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
The First Friday of each month is dedicated to devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Our first Saint was born about 295 at Alexandria, Egypt, where Athanasius studied the classics and theology and became the deacon, secretary, and student of Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. He attended the Council of Nicea in 325 where he fought for the defeat of Arianism and acceptance of the divinity of Jesus. Toward this end, he formulated the doctrine of homo-ousianism which says that Christ is the same substance as the Father; Arianism taught that Christ was different from and a creation of the Father, a creature and not part of God. He became Bishop of Alexandria in approximately 328; he served in that post for 46 years. When the dispute over Arianism spilled over from theology to politics, Athanasius was exiled five separate times, spending more than a third of his episcopate in exile. A Confessor of the faith and Doctor of the Church, he fought for the acceptance of the Nicene Creed. His classic Life of St Anthony was translated into several languages and played an important role in the spreading of the ascetic ideal in Eastern and Western Christianity. We also honor Saint Wiborada, Religious and Martyr (died 926). Born sometime in the 9th century at Klingna, Aargau, Switzerland, she was a member of the Swabian nobility. Her brother, Hatto, was a priest and provost of Saint Magnus church. Wiborada turned her home into a hospital for the sick poor people that her brother brought to her. After a pilgrimage to Rome, she became a Benedictine nun at Saint Gall’s monastery, where she worked as a bookbinder. The subject of virulent criticism, she eventually withdrew further from the world, becoming an anchoress first near Saint Gall’s, then near her brother’s church. Noted for her austerity, and for her gift of prophecy, she drew many visitors and would-be students. One of her prophecies involved the Hungarian invasion of her region; her warning allowed the priests and religious of Saint Gall and Saint Magnus to escape after hiding all the books in their libraries, but Wiborada refused to leave her hermit’s cell. When the Magyar marauders reached St. Gall, they burned down St. Magnus and broke into the roof of Wiborada’s cell. Upon finding her kneeling in prayer, they clove her skull with a hatchet and left her to die. Saint Wiborada was the first woman formally canonized by the Vatican, by Pope Clement II in 1047, and is the Patron Saint of libraries and librarians. The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbred horses, held annually in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday in May, capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. The race is one and a quarter mile at Churchill Downs. Colts and geldings carry 126 pounds and fillies 121 pounds. The race is known in the United States as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” or “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” for its approximate duration, and is also called “The Run for the Roses” for the blanket of roses draped over the winner. It is the first leg of the United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing and is followed by the Preakness Stakes, then the Belmont Stakes; the horse must win all three to win the Triple Crown. The attendance at the Kentucky Derby ranks first in North America and usually surpasses the attendance of all other stakes races including the Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup. Today is also the Third Day of the Second Weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. One of the unique aspects of the Festival are the large areas dedicated to cultural and historical practices unique to Louisiana depicting many cultures that exist including Cajun, Los Islenos, and those found in several geographical areas of specific neighborhoods of New Orleans or other parts of Louisiana. Many of the folk demonstrators have been recognized by the National Endowment of the Arts for their work. Today’s headliners include Marcia Ball, Marc Broussard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Aaron Neville, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Elton John.
I had a hard time waking up today, and did not do my Devotional Reading. After the Pre-Shift meeting at work, Richard spent his day on Mini Baccarat. I was the Relief Dealer for the third Three Card Poker table, the Flop Poker table, the Four Card Poker table, and the second Mississippi Stud table. Normally, that would mean that I would take the first break, then work an hour and twenty minutes breaking the four tables. However, they did not have a Graveyard Shift dealer assigned to the third Three Card Poker table; there was a Swing Shift dealer on there, who was due to get out at 3:00 am (when we came in). I was told by the pit boss to tap her out on the table, and that her Swing relief dealer (who was not due to get out until 5:00 am, having started at 9:00 am) would come to the table. So, I got on the table; after twenty minutes and change had gone by, I asked my floor to see who they were sending to take over the table. By the time they found a dealer to come take the table, I had been on the table for thirty minutes, and went to my next table. I told my dealers to take their full twenty minutes; by the time I was done breaking my fourth table it was 4:35 am, and I had worked for the first hour and forty minutes. (Some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue.) After that, they closed Flop Poker, so that I was breaking the third Three Card Poker table, the Four Card Poker table, and the second Mississippi Stud table for the rest of the day.
As we were leaving the casino Richard asked if I was going to go with him to his cousin Lele’s to meet with some other cousins of his; I said no, and he said that he was going to pick up boudin on the way home. So I did not ask him to swing by the Pharmacy to pick up the prescriptions prescribed for me on Thursday. On the way home we stopped at Eunice Poultry, where Richard got boudin. Michelle was at home when we arrived home, looking through a video on a laptop (she is going to help a friend write a paper). Once home I set up my medications (none to renew but the two I knew about already for this Friday), then read the morning paper. (There was an item in the paper that there had been problems with the paper in Baton Rouge yesterday; so we got yesterdays’s puzzles, advice columns, and comics in today’s paper, along with the ones for today.) Richard then went to Lele’s with the boudin, and I went to the Adoration Chapel, where I did my Hour of Eucharistic Adoration and read the first half of the May 4th, 2015 issue of my Jesuit America magazine via PDF. After my Hour I had lunch at McDonalds, then came home to do the Daily Update for yesterday, Friday, May 1st, 2015 on the computer. I thus did not do my First Saturday devotions, and I did not go to Confession or to the 4:00 pm Mass. After Michelle left, Richard went to bed at about 4:30 pm. I opted not to go play Bingo at the church, or to make anything for tomorrow’s Graveyard Shift Pot Luck Dinner. The Kentucky Derby will be run this evening, and our #1 LSU Baseball team will be playing the third game of their three-game away series with Mississippi State. And I am about to head for bed.
Tomorrow is the Fifth Sunday of Easter, known as Cantate Sunday (Alleluia!), and the Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James, Apostles. And tomorrow is the final day of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for 2015. At the casino for the final day of the current two-week pay period we are having a Graveyard Shift Pot Luck Dinner in honor of one of our pit clerks, who (like the rest of the pit clerks) will be retired out of their positions after tomorrow. After lunch I will head over to the Church to play bingo, then I will go to Mass. And the Full Moon will arrive tomorrow night at 10:45 pm.
Our Parting Quote on this Saturday afternoon comes to us from Jack Kemp, American football player and politician. Born in 1935 in Los Angeles, California, Kemp grew up in the heavily-Jewish Wilshire district of West Los Angeles, but his tight-knit middle class family practiced in the Church of Christ, Scientist. After graduating from high school in 1953, he attended Occidental College, a founding member of the NCAA Division III Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Kemp selected the college because its football team used professional formations and plays, which he hoped would help him to become a professional quarterback. At Occidental, Kemp was a record-setting javelin hurler and played several positions on the football team: quarterback, defensive back, place kicker, and punter. After graduating from college with a degree in physical education in 1957, he married his college sweetheart, became a Presbyterian (her religion), pursued postgraduate studies in economics at Long Beach State University and California Western University, and served in the military from 1958 to 1962. Kemp was a professional quarterback for 13 years. He played briefly in the National Football League (NFL) and the Canadian Football League (CFL), but became a star in the American Football League (AFL). He served as captain of both the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills and earned the AFL Most Valuable Player award in 1965 after leading the Bills to a second consecutive championship. He played in the AFL for all 10 years of its existence, appeared in its All-Star game seven times, played in its championship game five times, and set many of the league’s career passing records. Kemp also co-founded the AFL Players Association, for which he served five terms as president. During the early part of his football career, he served in the United States Army Reserve. Despite his success and important AFL records, he is most prominently listed in the NFL record book for less flattering accomplishments, including his place as a former record holder for most quarterback sacks in a game. He began his political career when he was elected to the United States House of Representatives from New York’s 39th District in 1970, a post he held until becoming the Representative from New York’s 38th District in 1973. He held that post for ten years, becoming the Representative from New York’s 31st District in 1983, a post he held until 1989. He ran for the 1988 Presidential nomination, but lost to eventual President George Bush, who picked Kemp as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, whose job would be to foster public sector and private sector methods to meet the demands of public housing. However, the scandals of Reagan’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Samuel Pierce and the neglect of the president were obstacles from the start, and Kemp was unsuccessful at either of his major initiatives: enacting enterprise zones and promoting public housing tenant ownership. President Bush avoided federal antipoverty issues, and instead used Kemp as a mouthpiece to speak on the administration’s low priority conservative activist agenda. He left the administration in 1993; by 1994 he had embarked on 241 fund-raising dinners to raise $35 million for a 1996 Presidential bid and to pay off his 1988 campaign debts. In 1992 and 1993 Kemp was considered the favorite or co-favorite for the 1996 Presidential nomination. On August 16, 1996, the Republican Party chose Kemp as its vice presidential nominee, running alongside former Senator Dole. After receiving the nomination, Kemp became the ticket’s spokesman for minorities and the inner-city. Dole and Kemp lost the 1996 election to Clinton and Gore; the late 1990s, Kemp remained outspoken on political issues: he was critical of Clinton’s International Monetary Fund lax policies toward South Korea. Kemp continued his political advocacy for reform of taxation, Social Security and education. When a 1997 budget surplus was earmarked for debt repayment, Kemp opposed the plan in favor of tax cuts. Along with John Ashcroft and Alan Krueger he endorsed reform of payroll taxes to eliminate double taxation. In addition to his fiscal and economic policies, Kemp advocated against abortion when Congress was considering a bill banning intact dilation and extractions. He also advocated for retired NFL veterans on issues such as cardiovascular screening, assisted living, disability benefits, and the 2007 joint replacement program. In the late 1990s Kemp also was a vocal advocate for free market reform in Africa, arguing that the continent had great economic growth potential if it could shed autocratic and statist governmental policies. In early 1998, he was a serious contender for the 2000 United States presidential election, but his campaign possibilities faltered, and he instead endorsed eventual winner George W. Bush. In the early 21st century Kemp continued to be considered along with Reagan as the politician most responsible for the implementation of supply-side tax cuts and along with Steve Forbes as the political figure most responsible for their continued place in the marketplace of political ideas. He was described as a beacon of economic conservatism and a hero for his urban agenda. Kemp was considered the leader of the progressive conservatives who adhered to the hard right on social issues, but avoided protectionist fiscal and trade policy (died 2009): “Pro football gave me a good perspective. When I entered the political arena, I had already been booed, cheered, cut, sold, traded, and hung in effigy.”