Daily Update: Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Nereus and Achilleus, and Pancras

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Nereus and Saint Achilleus, Martyrs (died 98), and the Optional Memorial of Saint Pancras, Martyr (died 98), and today is the second of three Minor Rogation Days in the Catholic Church. And today is quite literally the birthday of my granddaughter, the daughter of my son Matthew and my daughter in law Callie (2015).

Saint Nereus and Saint Achilleus were brothers, soldiers in the imperial Roman army, and members of the Praetorian Guard. They were converts to Christianity and were martyred. They are mentioned in the sixth-century Martyrologium Hieronymianum, but very little is known of them. We also honor Saint Pancras, Martyr (died 98). He was a fourteen-year-old orphan, brought to Rome by his uncle, and upon converting to Christianity was reportedly martyred at the same time as Saint Nereus and Saint Achilleus. Pope Saint Vitalian (died 672) sent his relics from the cemetery of Calepodius in Rome to the British Isles as part of the evangelization of England, so that the new churches in Britain would have relics of the Church at large, and to install in altars in new churches. Saint Augustine of Canterbury dedicated the first church in England to Saint Pancras, and subsequent churches throughout England are similarly named for him. St. Pancras Old Church in London is believed to be one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in England, and he is the Patron Saint of children, and his aid is invoked against false witness and perjury, and against cramps and headache. This Tuesday is the second of three Minor Rogation Days (the three days before the Feast of the Ascension), and is a day when we ask for the blessings of God upon our crops and our undertakings. The Minor Rogations were introduced by Saint Mamertus, Bishop of Vienne, and were afterwards ordered by the Fifth Council of Orléans, which was held in 511, and then approved by Leo III (795-816). They were removed from the General Calendar in 1969, but I note them in this weblog. And today is the birthday (literally) of my granddaughter, the daughter of my son Matthew (2015).

When we woke up for work we had no word on the baby. I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Fifth Day of my Ascension Novena. I had sent a text to Lisa, Callie’s mother, as we left for work with the single character “?”. Lisa responded that they had had to have the epidural removed and redone at 10:30 pm EDT, that Callie was six centimeters dilated, and that all was proceeding well. Once at the casino I ate breakfast in ADR, then we signed the Early Out list. When we clocked in, Richard was on Mississippi Stud, and I was the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat, Pai Gow, and the Sit-Down Blackjack table. We got out at 6:00 am, or just after they had turned the Sit-Down Blackjack Table into a $5.00 Blackjack game.

On our way home I texted Lisa again with “?”, and got the one word response “Pushing”. We stopped at McDonald’s so that Richard could get some breakfast via the drive through window, and arrived home at 7:00 am. I got online and was doing some cleanup and updating work on my weblog, and at 8:48 am we got a text saying “9:30 [am, EDT] she’s finally here!” Lisa then called me on the phone, and I put her on speaker so that Richard could listen and talk. The baby is fine, 9 pounds 6 ounces, and 20 inches long, with lots of hair, and she came out yelling. Lisa said there was a moratorium on photos of the baby being sent to family and friends until Matthew had a chance to see the baby (they were still unable to get in touch with him), and by the same token a moratorium on Facebook announcements. We told Lisa that we were very very happy and for her to kiss Callie and the baby for us. When we got off the phone, I called Liz Ellen and left a message on her voice mail at work, and sent text messages to Michelle, to our friend Deborah at work, and to my friend Sue at work. Meanwhile, Richard called his sister Susan and his cousin Lele, and over the next hour or so talked to most of his brothers and sisters. I read the morning paper, and took a nap starting at about 11:00 am; at some point Richard joined me.

I woke up again at 4:00 pm; we watched Jeopardy!, then called Callie. Her mother answered the phone, and reported that mother and baby were fine, and that they had gotten in touch with Matthew, and that he had talked to Callie on the phone. (He will be home Thursday or Friday; Callie should go home from the hospital with the baby on Thursday.) I then left for Lafayette, getting my dinner via the drive through window of McDonald’s in Rayne. At 6:30 pm I attended the Sci-Fi Fantasy Book Club meeting to discuss Yesterday’s Kin by Nancy Kress; the meeting was well attended, and we did a good job of discussing the book (we all agreed that there were good ideas not fully realized, and one-dimensional characters.) After the meeting I returned Yesterday’s Kin by Nancy Kress to the library, and headed on home, arriving at 8:30 pm. I texted Callie to see if it was too late to call her; her phone was off (or busy), but she texted me back at 9:15 pm, and I told her we would call in forty-five minutes. We watched CSI: Cyber, then called Callie and talked with her for a few minutes, then let her get back to sleep. (The baby has a name, but in keeping with my policy of not naming people not yet 21 in my weblog, I am not mentioning it here.) I then came to the computer to do my Daily Update. Our #1 ranked LSU Baseball team played a single game with the University of New Orleans tonight, starting at 6:30 pm; but LSUSports.net is down (both my Android app, and the regular address on the Web), so I will not have the score until tomorrow sometime. (Our Tigers will end the regular season with a three-game away series with South Carolina, starting on Thursday evening.) And my right ear has been swimmer’s ear full all day, giving me no end of annoyance, so I will dose that ear with my ear drops before going to sleep, which I will be doing in the next half hour or so.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Blessed Julian of Norwich, Anchoress, and the Optional Memorial of Our Lady of Fátima, and the third of the three Minor Rogation Days. Tomorrow is also the anniversary of the Renaissance (1997) of my relationship with Richard, and it’s high time and more that I had another Renaissance. I will do the Weekly Computer Maintenance (also my Weekly Android Maintenance), and doing my laundry; aside from those tasks I have nothing scheduled. We may talk again with Callie or her mother tomorrow, but the one I really want to talk to is my son. I also hope I get to talk with Liz Ellen; I did not hear from her today, so I fear she may not have gotten my voicemail at her work phone. (She is one of my Four or Five Loyal Readers, though; so Liz Ellen, call me!)

Our Parting Quote on this Tuesday evening comes to us from Irena Sendler, Polish social worker. Born as Irena Krzyzanowski in 1910 in Warsaw, Poland, her father was a physician who died in 1917 after treating patients (many of them Jews) whom his colleagues refused to treat. After his death Jewish community leaders offered to pay for Sendler’s education. She opposed the ghetto-bench system that existed at some prewar Polish universities (Jewish students being forced to sit in a special section of the lecture halls) and as a result was suspended from Warsaw University for three years. During the German occupation of Poland, Sendler lived in Warsaw (prior to that, she had lived in Otwock and Tarczyn while working for urban Social Welfare departments). As early as 1939, when the Germans invaded Poland, she began aiding Jews. She and her helpers created over 3,000 false documents to help Jewish families, prior to joining the organized Żegota resistance and the children’s division. Helping Jews was very risky; in German-occupied Poland, all household members risked death if they were found to be hiding Jews, a more severe punishment than in other occupied European countries. In December 1942, the newly created Żegota (the Council to Aid Jews) nominated her (by her cover name of Jolanta) to head its children’s section. As an employee of the Social Welfare Department, she had a special permit to enter the Warsaw Ghetto to check for signs of typhus, something the Nazis feared would spread beyond the Ghetto. During these visits, she wore a Star of David as a sign of solidarity with the Jewish people and so as not to call attention to herself. She cooperated with the Children’s Section of the Municipal Administration, linked with the RGO (Central Welfare Council), a Polish relief organization that was tolerated under German supervision. She organized the smuggling of Jewish children out of the Ghetto, carrying them out in boxes, suitcases and trolleys. Under the pretext of conducting inspections of sanitary conditions during a typhoid outbreak, Sendler visited the Ghetto and smuggled out babies and small children in ambulances and trams, sometimes disguising them as packages. She also used the old courthouse at the edge of the Warsaw Ghetto (still standing) as one of the main routes for smuggling out children. The children were placed with Polish families, the Warsaw orphanage of the Sisters of the Family of Mary, or Roman Catholic convents such as the Little Sister Servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary Conceived Immaculate at Turkowice and Chotomów. Sendler cooperated very closely with social worker and Catholic nun Matylda Getter, the Mother Provincial of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary. Sendler rescued between 250-550 Jewish children in different education and care facilities for children in Anin, Białołęka, Chotomów, Międzylesie, Płudy, Sejny, Vilnius and other cities. Some children were smuggled to priests in parish rectories. She buried lists of their real names in jars in order to keep track of their original and new identities. Żegota assured the children that, when the war was over, they would be returned to Jewish relatives. In 1943 Sendler was arrested by the Gestapo, severely tortured, and sentenced to death. Żegota saved her by bribing German guards on the way to her execution; she was left in the woods, unconscious and with broken arms and leg, and was listed on public bulletin boards as among those executed. For the remainder of the war, she lived in hiding, but continued her work for the Jewish children. After the war she dug up the jars containing the 2,500 children’s identities and attempted to find the children and return them to their parents. However, almost all of their parents had been killed at the Treblinka extermination camp or had otherwise gone missing. After the war and the Soviet takeover of Poland, Sendler was persecuted by the communist Polish state authorities for her relations with the Polish government in exile and with the Home Army. In 1965 Sendler was recognized by Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous among the Nations. She also was awarded the Commander’s Cross by the Israeli Institute. Only in that year did the Polish communist government allow her to travel abroad, to receive the award in Israel. Sendler’s story was largely unknown to the world until 1999 when students in Kansas developed The Irena Sendler Project, producing their performance Life in a Jar. This student-produced drama has now been performed over 285 times all across the United States, in Canada and in Poland. Sendler’s message of love and respect has grown through the performances, over 1,500 media stories, a student-developed website with 30,000,000 hits, a national teaching award in Poland and the United States, and an educational foundation, the Lowell Milken Education Center, to make Sendler’s story known to the world. In 2001 she was awarded the Commander’s Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta. In 2003 Pope John Paul II sent Sendler a personal letter praising her wartime efforts. Later in 2003 she received the Order of the White Eagle, Poland’s highest civilian decoration, and the Jan Karski Award “For Courage and Heart,” given by the American Center of Polish Culture in Washington, D.C.. On March 14, 2007, Sendler was honored by Poland’s Senate. At age 97, she was unable to leave her nursing home to receive the honor, but she sent a statement through Elżbieta Ficowska, whom Sendler had saved as an infant. Polish President Lech Kaczyński stated she “can justly be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize” (though nominations are supposed to be kept secret). On April 11, 2007, she received the Order of the Smile as the oldest recipient of the award. Sendler was the last survivor of the Children’s Section of the Żegota Council to Assist Jews, which she had headed from January 1943 until the end of the war. In May 2009 Sendler was posthumously granted the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award. The award, named in honor of the late actress and UNICEF ambassador, is presented to persons and organizations recognized for helping children. In its citation, the Audrey Hepburn Foundation recalled Sendler’s heroic efforts that saved two thousand five hundred Jewish children during the German occupation of Poland in World War II (died 2008): “Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this Earth, and not a title to glory.”

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