Today is the first full day of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan. Today is also the Optional Memorial of Saint Romuald, Abbot (died 1027). In the secular world, today is Juneteenth.
Each day before dawn during the month of Ramadan, Muslims observe a pre-fast meal called suhoor. After stopping a short time before dawn, Muslims begin the first prayer of the day, the Fajr prayer. During the day the observant do not eat or drink, smoke, or engage in consensual sexual relations, and concentrate on purity of thought and deed. (If one breaks the fast by eating intentionally or through consensual sexual intercourse, the transgressor must make up for the day by fasting for sixty consecutive days, freeing a slave, or feeding sixty people in need.) At sunset, families hasten for the fast-breaking meal known as iftar. Over time, iftar has grown into banquet festivals. This is a time of fellowship with families, friends and surrounding communities, but may also occupy larger spaces at masjid or banquet halls for 100 or more diners. Giving to charity is encouraged, and many of the observant spend the month reading the entire Qur’an. Today’s Saint was born about 951 at Ravenna, Italy; Romuald was of the Italian nobility and spent a wild youth. After he witnessed his father kill another man in a duel, he sought to atone for the crime by becoming a Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Sant’Apollinare in Classe, Italy. After some indecision, Romuald became a monk there. Led by a desire for a stricter way of life than he found in that community, three years later he withdrew to become a hermit on a remote island in the region, accompanied solely by an older monk, Marinus, who served as his spiritual master. Apparently having gained a reputation for holiness, the Doge of Venice Pietro I Orseolo accepted his advice to become a monk, abdicating his office and fleeing in the night to Catalonia to take the monastic habit. Romuald and his companion, Marinus, accompanied him there, establishing a hermitage near the Abbey of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa which Orseolo entered. A wanderer by nature, Romuald established several hermitage and monasteries in central and northern Italy, and founded the Camaldolese Benedictines. The Camaldolese monks lived in individual cells, but also observed the common life, worshiping daily in the church and breaking bread in the dining hall. He tried to evangelize the Slavs, but met with little success, and spent the last fourteen years of his life in seclusion at Mount Sitria, Bifolco, and Val di Castro. The several branches of the Camaldolese Benedictines today live in several monasteries and hermitages in Italy, finding a fusion of community life and private devotional life. Today is also Juneteenth, the commemoration of the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. State of Texas in 1865. Though Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863, it had minimal immediate effect on most slaves’ day-to-day lives, particularly in Texas, which was almost entirely under Confederate control. June 18, 1865 was the day Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves. On June 19, 1865, legend has it while standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, Granger read the contents of “General Order No. 3”: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.” Former slaves in Galveston rejoiced in the streets with jubilant celebrations, and that day has since become known as Juneteenth, a name derived from a portmanteau of the words “June” and “Nineteenth”. Juneteenth celebrations began in Texas the following year; the holiday is one of the oldest celebrations commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States and has been an African-American tradition since the late 19th century. As of May 2014, when the Maryland legislature approved official recognition of the holiday, 43 of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (including Louisiana) have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or ceremonial holiday, a day of observance. States that do not yet recognize it are Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah.
Last night Richard reserved a room for us for the night of November 14th at the Belle of Baton Rouge Motel; we are planning on coming home from our October / November vacation early enough to see the LSU – Arkansas football game on the 14th. And our LSU Baseball team ended their season last night with a second loss in the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska to TCU (the game last night was 4 to 8). Our Tigers had a very good season, winning the SEC Championship and winning in the SEC Tournament, and were ranked #1 during most of the season and post-season.
This morning I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading and posted to Facebook that it was Juneteenth today. I also charged up my Selfie stick and my Bluetooth audio speaker before leaving the house, and set up the remaining Special K Protein cereal to have as snacks at work. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. When we got to the casino we found that they had finished moving tables and slot machines around; we had a pit of table games parallel to the Pai-Gow / Mini Baccarat pit in front of the Buffet, and another pit between the Main Bar (which sits in the middle of the Dome) and the Poker Room. So now, all of our Table Games are Under the Dome, with the exception of our High Stakes Table Games, which is still in their room between the Box Office and the Gift Shop. Once we clocked in Richard was on Mini Baccarat (he said he dealt all of two hands today), and I started out on a Blackjack table. They closed my table and had me deal the Shoe Game in our High Stakes Table Games area, then I helped change Blackjack cards before I went to Pai Gow for the rest of the day. On my breaks I worked on arranging the photos from our trip and on putting the National Parks I have been to into the My Passport application on my Galaxy Note 4 (I have found that I can log in five parks per break, which means I will be doing this project for awhile yet).
On our way home I continued reading The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom. Once home I read the morning paper, then took a nap. When I woke up from my nap I watched Jeopardy!, and Richard went to Little Caesars and brought back pizza pizza for our dinner. I am not at the computer doing today’s Daily Update, and when I finish I will get ready to go to bed.
We have no Saints to honor tomorrow; instead we will note that tomorrow is the anniversary of the United States Congress adopting the Great Seal of the United States in 1782, and, more recently, the birthday of my former neighbor Pam, who is the mother of several of the former Assembled (the friends of my kids who used to hang out here) (1959). We will head to the casino again, and on my breaks I will work on photos from my trip and filling out National Parks on the My Passport application. I will eat my lunch at home while Richard pays bills, and while he goes to the store with the store list I will go to the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. After Adoration I will either not nap, or I will nap and wake up in time to do my Daily Update.
Our Friday Afternoon Parting Quote comes to us from Vince Flynn, American author. Born in 1966 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, he attended the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, and then went to work for Kraft Foods as an account and sales marketing specialist. In 1991 he left Kraft to pursue a career as an aviator with the United States Marine Corps. One week before leaving for Officer Candidate School, he was medically disqualified from the Marine Aviation Program. In an effort to overcome the difficulties of dyslexia, Flynn forced himself into a daily writing and reading regimen. His newfound interest in novels by Hemingway, Ludlum, Clancy, Tolkien, Vidal, and Irving motivated him to begin work on a novel of his own. While employed as a bartender in the St. Paul area, he completed his first book, Term Limits, which he then self-published. Pocket Books published the hardcover edition the book in 1998 and the mass market paperback edition of the book in 1999, which spent several weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. Subsequent works of his centered around counter-terrorism agent Mitch Rapp, with the first book published in the series (though not the first book in the chronology of the series) being Transfer of Power in 1999. Mitch Rapp, as portrayed by the author, is an under-cover CIA counter-terrorism agent. The primary focus of the character is thwarting Muslim terrorist attacks on the United States and he is presented as an aggressive operative who is willing to take measures that are more extreme than might be considered commonly acceptable. His constant frustration with procedures and red tape are a major theme throughout the entire series. Profanity and adult themes are common, so the series is recommended for mature audiences. Memorial Day, published by Atria Books in May 2004, was his sixth novel and was put under security review by the Department of Energy due to classified material that appeared in the book that dealt with nuclear security and was mentioned in internal memos by the FBI and Secret Service. In February 2008 Flynn agreed on film and book projects with CBS Corporation units CBS Films and Simon & Schuster / Atria Books. In August 2010 Flynn signed a two-book deal for a new series to be co-written with Brian Haig, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel. However, on February 1, 2011, in his fan newsletter, Flynn announced that he was being treated for advanced Stage III prostate cancer. His final Mitch Rapp novel, The Survivor, will be published in October 2015, and another author will continue writing the books in the series (died 2013): “I look back on [leaving my job at Kraft Foods] now and I couldn’t be happier with my decision, but at the time I remember a lot of people thought I was nuts.”