Daily Update: Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Rita of Cascia

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Rita of Cascia, Religious (died 1457).

Born as Rita Lotti in 1386 at Roccaparena, Umbria, Italy, today’s Saint’s parents had her late in life. From her early youth she visited the Augustinian nuns at Cascia and showed interest in a religious life. However, when she was twelve, her parents betrothed her to Paolo Mancini, an ill-tempered, abusive individual who worked as a town watchman and who was dragged into the political disputes of the Guelphs and Ghibellines. Disappointed but obedient, Rita married him when she was 18, and was the mother of twin sons. She put up with Paolo’s abuses for eighteen years before he was ambushed and stabbed to death. Her sons swore vengeance on the killers of their father, but through the prayers and interventions of Rita, they forgave the offenders. Upon the deaths of her sons, Rita again felt the call to religious life. However, some of the sisters at the Augustinian monastery were relatives of her husband’s murderers, and she was denied entry for fear of causing dissension. Asking for the intervention of Saint John the Baptist, Saint Augustine of Hippo, and Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, she managed to bring the warring factions together, not completely, but sufficiently so that there was peace, and she was admitted to the monastery of Saint Mary Magdalen at age 36. She lived 40 years in the convent, spending her time in prayer and charity, and working for peace in the region. She was devoted to the Passion, and in response to a prayer to suffer as Christ, she received a chronic head wound that appeared to have been caused by a crown of thorns and which bled for 15 years. Confined to her bed the last four years of her life, and eating little more than the Eucharist, she spent her time teaching and directing the younger sisters. Near the end of her life in January, 1457, a visitor from her home town asked if she’d like anything; Rita’s only request was a rose from her family’s estate. The visitor went to the home, even though he knew that there was no hope of roses in January; there, sprouted on an otherwise bare bush, was a single rose blossom, which he then brought to her. She is the Patron Saint of mothers and of lost and impossible causes, and her aid is invoked against sickness, wounds, abuse, and marital problems.

Last night our #1 ranked LSU Baseball team beat Arkansas by the score of 10 to 5 in the SEC Tournament. (They do not play today; my weblog posting yesterday saying that they were playing today was in error. Mea culpa.)

I did my Internet Devotional Reading, and Richard was totally unable to find his phone (more anon). On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Eighth Day of my Pentecost Novena. When we got to work and clocked in, we saw that it was quite dead out on the floor, and that very few people had signed the Early Out list, so we signed it. Richard was on Mini Baccarat; I started out on Let It Ride, closed that table, went to the second Mississippi Stud table, closed that table, then changed Blackjack cards. We got out at 5:30 am, arrived back home at 6:15 am, and I went back to bed.

Waking up again at about 11:00 am, I read the morning paper. Meanwhile, Richard had turned the house inside out, and was unable to find his phone, and figured it somehow fell out of his pocket when he was at Wal-Mart yesterday and landed in the parking lot. We left the house at 12:30 pm, and first went to our auto garage, in case they had tried to call Richard on his phone. They told him they were waiting to hear back from Michelle’s insurance before they put in the new radiator in her car, and that they had her phone number. We then went to Verizon Wireless. Richard was unable to buy a new “basic” flip phone, so he opted for the Galaxy S-4 (with an Otterbox, of course). When we got out of there we ate Chinese for lunch at Peking.

We arrived home again at 2:15 pm, and I worked on the computer making sure the photos on my phone were on the computer, and Richard worked at setting up things on his phone the way he wants them. At 4:30 pm I watched Jeopardy!, and at 5:30 pm Richard found his old lost phone – it was on the counter in the kid’s bathroom, behind a roll of toilet tissue. I think he is going to hang onto his new Galaxy S-4 smartphone, rather than go back to his old basic flip phone.

Tomorrow we have no Saints to honor, although it will be the last weekday of the Easter season. On my breaks at work (tomorrow will be a Heavy Business Volume Day, due to the Memorial Day Weekend) I will get back to reading The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith. After lunch I will head to the Adoration Chapel and do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. Our #1 LSU Baseball team will be playing in the SEC Semifinal game with either Florida or Arkansas. I hope to make it to the 4:00 pm Mass, and tomorrow at sunset begins the Jewish feast of Shavuot.

Our Parting Quote on this Friday afternoon comes to us from Robert Asprin, American science fiction and fantasy author. Born in 1946 in St. Johns, Michigan, he attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Michigan from 1964 through 1965. From 1965 through 1966 he served in the United States Army. He was married (twice) and had two children. He was active in the early years of the Society for Creative Anachronism (founded in 1966) under the name “Yang the Nauseating” and co-founded the Great Dark Horde in 1971. His first novel, The Cold Cash War, an expansion of an earlier short story of the same title, was published in 1977. Over the next few years, he created and edited (with his then-wife, Lynn Abbey) the Thieves’ World (1978 – 1989) series of shared world anthologies, credited as the first project of its type. Soon after the series hit its stride many of the authors produced novels and stories outside the anthologies, beginning with Beyond Sanctuary by Janet Morris, the first “authorized” Thieves World novel, published in 1985. Janet Morris and Chris Morris went on to produce two more authorized Thieves World “Beyond” novels and a series of related novels about their immortalized character, Tempus, and the Sacred Band of Stepsons.. A series of graphic novels followed in the mid-1980s, and several other authors, including Andrew J. Offutt, and David Drake published novels about their characters. In 2002 Lynn Abbey resurrected the series with the novel Sanctuary. In 1978 Asprin began the MythAdventures series with the book Another Fine Myth chronicling the comic adventures of Skeeve and Aahz. Originally illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas, and later by Phil Foglio, the highly pun-driven books follow a “demon” magician who has lost his powers and his inexperienced human apprentice as they travel through a variety of worlds in pursuit of finding their place in life, under the guise of seeking wealth and glory. Some of the early Myth novels were later adapted as comic books by Foglio and others. In the 1990s Asprin’s Phule novels followed the humorous science-fiction exploits of a rag-tag company of the “Space Legion” and its wealthy and iconoclastic leader Willard Phule. Due to a series of personal and financial problems, Asprin stopped writing in the 1990s. He had two books on the New York Times Bestsellers list which piqued the interest of fans and the IRS. Unfortunately this came right at the time of an almost seven year writing drought. Eventually, these problems were somewhat resolved, and in the late 1990s and early 2000s he wrote several novels in collaboration with authors Peter Heck, Jody Lynn Nye, and Linda Evans. As a result of the conditions of his agreement with the IRS, it would receive all income earned from books for which he was credited as sole author, making it in his own best interest to reduce his role to co-author. These novels included continuations of the Myth series and the Phule series as well as works in original series. One of Asprin’s last projects was NO Quarter, co-authored with Eric Del Carlo and Teresa Patterson. It was a dark fantasy/suspense novel set in the author’s beloved New Orleans French Quarter. Although the novel’s fantasy elements (voodoo and black magic, tarot readings and precognition, ghosts and mysticism) were secondary to the brutal murder that is the focus of the plot, it was set in the same milieu as Asprin’s Griffen McCandles novels, Dragons Luck and Dragons Wild. The two protagonists of NO Quarter, Maestro and Bone, also appeared as minor characters in the Dragons novels. Maestro, the mysterious pool shark and fencing master in NO Quarter, was a highly fictionalized but recognizable self-portrait of the author. NO Quarter was published November 2009, eighteen months after his death. Asprin died in bed, where he had been reading a Terry Pratchett novel. He was to have been the Guest of Honor at Marcon 43 that weekend in Columbus, Ohio. His heirs donated his archive to the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University (died 2008): “New Orleans life is such a night life. The thing that comes up very often is that our day essentially doesn’t start until midnight or 2 in the morning.”

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