Daily Update: Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Eugene de Mazenod, Cristóbal Magallanes Jara, and Franz Jägerstätter

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Eugene de Mazenod, Bishop (died 1861), the Optional Memorial of Saint Cristóbal Magallanes Jara, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (died 1927), and the Optional Memorial of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, Layman and Martyr (died 1943). It is also the birthday of my Internet friend Denise in North Carolina (1954) and of Kyran, one of the Assembled (1985).

Born in 1782 at Aix-en-Provence, France, Charles Joseph Eugene de Mazenod was an eldest son; his mother was of the French middle class, convent educated, and wealthy; his father was an aristocrat, classically educated, and poor. In 1790, at age eight, he fled with his family to exile in Italy to escape the French Revolution. He spent eleven years in Italy, living in Nice, Turin, Venice, Naples, and Palermo. While he learned Italian and German from dealing with people day to day, the bulk of his education came in Venice from a local priest. In Palermo he was exposed to a wild and worldly life among rich young Italian nobles. After the Revolution, his mother returned to France, but his father stayed in Italy, ostensibly for political reasons. Upon his own return to France in 1802 in an attempt to reclaim the family lands, Eugene tried to reunite his parents, but failed, and they were divorced, an unusual event in the early 19th century. Torn within between the worldly life and the spiritual life, he had a mystical experience at the foot of a cross on Good Friday in 1807 when Eugene was momentarily touched by the full force of the love of God. He entered the seminary of Saint Sulpice, Paris in 1808, and was ordained in 1811 at age 29 at Amiens. Because of his noble birth he was immediately offered the position of Vicar General to the bishop of Amiens. However, he renounced his family’s wealth and preferred to become a parish priest in Aix-en-Provence, working among the poor, preaching missions and bringing them the church in their native Provencal dialect, not the French used by the upper classes. He worked among the sick, prisoners, the poor, and the overlooked young. He contracted, and nearly died from, typhus while working in prisons. He gathered other workers around him, both clergy and laymen; they worked from a former Carmelite convent, and the priests among them formed the Missionaries of Provence who conducted parish missions throughout the region. They were successful, and their reputation spread, bringing requests for them outside the region. Eugene realized the need for formal organization, and in 1826 he received approval from Pope Leo XII to found a new congregation, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate founded on his core of missionaries. Though he would have preferred to remain a missionary, he knew that position with the Church hierarchy would allow him to insure the success of his little congregation. He was appointed Vicar-General of Marseille in 1823, titular bishop of Icosia in 1832, co-adjutor in 1834, and in 1837 became Bishop of Marseille, ordained by Pope Gregory XVI. He founded 23 parishes, built or restored 50 churches, cared for aged and persecuted priests, restored ecclesiastical discipline, and developed catechetics for young people. He started work on the cathedral and shrine of Notre-Dame de la Garde in Marseille, welcomed 33 congregations of religious brothers and sisters into the diocese, more than doubled the number of priests in his diocese, and celebrated all ordinations himself. In 1841 Bishop de Mazenod’s first overseas missionaries arrived in Canada. He publicly endorsed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and worked for its promulgation. His printed writings run to 25 volumes. He was made a peer of the French Empire, and promoted to Archbishop of Marseille in 1851 by Pope Blessed Pius IX. Named senator and member of the Legion of Honour by Napoleon III in 1856, he was proposed as a cardinal in 1859. He is the Patron Saint of dysfunctional families. We also honor Cristóbal Magallanes Jara, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (died 1927). Born in Totatiche, Jalisco, Mexico, in 1869, his was a farm family, and he worked as a shepherd in his youth. Entering the seminary at 19, he was ordained at the age of 30 and became parish priest at Totatiche, Mexico. He helped found schools, a newspaper, catechism centers for children and adults, carpentry shops, and an electric plant to power the mills. He worked with the indigenous people to form agrarian cooperatives with the town’s people, and was noted for his devotion to Our Lady. When the anti-Church government closed all seminaries in 1914, Father Cristóbal gathered displaced seminarians, and started his own seminary; it was quickly suppressed. He formed another, and another, and when they were all closed, the seminarians conducted classes in private homes. He wrote and preached against armed rebellion, but was falsely accused of promoting the Cristero guerrilla revolt. Arrested on May 21, 1927 while en route to celebrate Mass at a farm, he gave away his few remaining possessions to his executioners and gave them absolution, and, without a trial, he was martyred with Saint Agustin Caloca. He is a relatively recent Saint, having been canonized in 2000 by Blessed Pope John Paul II. Blessed Franz Jägerstätter was born as Franz Huber in 1907 in Sankt Radegund, Upper Austria, Austria-Hungary. An illegitimate child, he was first cared for by his paternal grandmother. His natural father was killed in World War I when he was still a child, and when his mother married in 1917, Franz was adopted by her husband, Heinrich Jägerstätter. In his youth he gained a reputation for being a wild fellow, but, in general, his daily life was like that of most Austrian peasants. He worked as a farmhand and also as a miner in Eisenerz, until in 1933 he inherited the farmstead of his foster father. In that same year, he fathered an out-of-wedlock daughter. In 1936 he married a deeply religious woman; their honeymoon was a pilgrimage to Rome. When German troops moved into Austria in 1938, Jägerstätter was the only person in the village to vote against the Anschluss in the plebiscite of April 10th. The local authorities suppressed his dissent and announced unanimous approval. Although he was not involved with any political organization and did undergo one brief period of military training, he remained openly anti-Nazi and publicly declared he would not fight in the war. He joined the Third Order of Saint Francis in 1940 and worked as a sacristan at the local parish church, being deferred from military service several times. In 1940, aged 33, he was conscripted into the German army and completed basic training. Returning home in 1941 under an exemption as a farmer, he began to examine the morality of the war and discussed this with his bishop, but was saddened that the bishop seemed afraid to confront the issues. After many delays, Jägerstätter was finally called to active duty on February 23, 1943. By this time, he had three daughters with his wife, the eldest not quite six. He maintained his position against fighting for the Third Reich and upon entering into the Wehrmacht on March 1 declared his conscientious objection. His offer to serve as a paramedic was ignored. A priest from his village visited him in jail and tried to talk him into serving, but did not succeed. He was immediately imprisoned, first at Linz, then at Berlin-Tegel. Accused of Wehrkraftzersetzung (undermining of military morale), after a military trial at the Reichskriegsgericht he was sentenced to death on July 6 and subsequently executed by guillotine at Brandenburg-Görden Prison on August 9, 1943, aged 36. In 1946 his ashes were buried at the Sankt Radegund cemetery. Jägerstätter was criticized by his countrymen, especially Catholics who had served in the military, for failing in his duty as a husband and father. The municipality of Sankt Radegund at first refused to put his name on the local war memorial and a pension for his widow was not approved until 1950. Jägerstätter’s fate was not well known until 1964, when American sociologist Gordon Zahn published his biography, In Solitary Witness. Film director Axel Corti made a TV movie of his life, titled Der Fall Jägerstätter, in 1971, starring Kurt Weinzierl. His case was a topic of the annual Braunauer Zeitgeschichte-Tage conference in 1995. The death sentence was nullified by the Landgericht Berlin on May 7, 1997, and a Stolperstein (a commemorative cobblestone memorial for victims of the Holocaust) for Jägerstätter was laid in Sankt Radegund in 2006. In June 2007 Pope Benedict XVI issued an apostolic exhortation declaring Jägerstätter a martyr. On October 26, 2007, he was beatified in a ceremony held by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins at the New Cathedral in Linz. His feast day is the day of his christening rather than that of the anniversary of his death, and he is the Patron of Conscientious Objectors. Today is also the birthday of my Internet friend Denise in North Carolina (1954) and of Kyran, one of the Assembled (1985).

Last evening our #1 ranked LSU Baseball team beat Auburn in the SEC Tournament by the score of 9 to 8. And while taking my bath I read the May 18th, 2015 issue of Sports Illustrated.

I woke up at 9:00 am this morning, did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and read the Thursday papers while eating my breakfast toast. I also made a dietary decision: if I am stationary, I will drink water when I want to drink something, and if I am in transit, then I will drink Diet Coke. Richard was arranging hotels rooms online (one for Houston the night before we fly up to Connecticut, and one in Boston the night before we fly home from Connecticut). While he was doing that, I finished my laundry, ironed my Casino pants, apron, and shirts, prepared Liz Ellen’s monthly package of magazines and such, did my Internet Devotional Reading, and said the Seventh Day of my Pentecost Novena. Richard then mowed the grass just ahead of the rain, and I worked on Advance Daily Update Drafts for this weblog.

We left the house at 1:30 pm; our first stop was the Post Office, where I mailed off Liz Ellen’s package. At the Hit-n-Run I purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for Saturday night’s drawing. At Wal-Mart Richard got groceries and my salad supplies.

Arriving home at 2:15 pm, we got ourselves a late lunch of roast beef sandwiches. I then requested our yearly credit report (one for me, and one for Richard) from Experian via Annual Credit Report.com. I request these through the mail, so I will mail out the requests tomorrow on our way to work. I then made my lunch salads for tomorrow and Sunday, and gathered up the aluminum cans and tossed the bag of cans in the garage. I then watched Jeopardy! at 4:30 pm, then came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update after Richard was done with the computer. When I am done with the computer, I will take a bath and do some reading before going to bed. Our #1 ranked LSU Baseball team will be playing Arkansas in the SEC Tournament tonight; I will report the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Rita of Cascia, Religious. We will return to the casino for the beginning of our work week, and on my breaks I will continue reading The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith. And tomorrow our #1 ranked LSU Baseball team will play either Florida or Arkansas to finish out the SEC Tournament.

This Thursday afternoon brings us a Parting Quote from Otis Clark, American butler and preacher. Born in Meridian, Oklahoma in 1903, he grew up in segregated Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was employed as a drugstore delivery boy in 1921 when, on the afternoon of May 30th, a black teenager, Dick Rowland, used the elevator in the Drexel building in downtown Tulsa. As Rowland exited the elevator, an employee of Renberg’s Clothing Store heard what was thought to be a scream. The clerk reached the conclusion that Sarah Page, the white elevator operator, had been assaulted. Newspaper headlines supported the account, causing a race riot to occur in Tulsa the next day, on May 31, 1921. Clark saw many people die in what is considered to be the worst ethnic riot in American history. He was trying to get a car to help victims of the riot when gunfire came his way. Clark ran for his life while people were shooting at him, trying to get out of the way of the bullets. His family home was burned to the ground and he believed his stepfather was killed during the riots, as he was never seen again. The 18-hour siege destroyed thirty blocks of a thriving African-American residential and business community known as the “Black Wall Street,” leaving 38 known dead, over 200 missing (a figure estimated by the American Red Cross) and 10,000 homeless. Shortly thereafter, at age 19, Clark fled Tulsa on a train bound for California to look for his biological father. He survived 20 days in a California jail for bootlegging and selling illegal whiskey. He wound up getting married and finding employment in Hollywood as a butler for movie stars Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, and Joan Crawford; his wife lived at the Crawford residence working as the cook. Based on a spiritual dream to become a preacher doing the work of God, Clark later became an itinerant evangelist traveling the United States and the world on behalf of the Church of God In Christ and was officially ordained in 1946. In 2008 a documentary titled Before They Die told the story of Clark and one other living survivor of the 1921 riot. Despite his advanced age, Clark was in excellent health, not using medication, hearing aids, or a cane when walking. He traveled to Zimbabwe for a three-week mission trip when he was 104 and visited Canada in January 2012. At the time of his death at the age of 109 he was the oldest living practicing evangelist and preparing for a mission trip to Nigeria in 2013. He was also the oldest living survivor of the 1921 Tulsa race riot (died 2012): “My favorite verse is, ‘He that believeth and is baptized will be saved.’ Yep, he that believeth. God will give you eternal life. You will live all eternity with God, but you got to be on God’s side. I hold that if you are on God’s side, you are on the winning side.”

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