Daily Update: Saturday, August 8th, 2015

Dominic (El Greco, Saint Dominic in Prayer) and 08-08 - LSU Graduation (1980) and Louisiana Back to School Sales Tax Holiday

Today is the Memorial of Saint Dominic, Priest (died 1221) and the Optional Memorial of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Religious (died 1909), and today is the day I graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in accounting in 1980. Today is also the birthday of Richard’s friend Stephen in Mississippi (1957), and the final day of the two-day Louisiana Sales Tax Holiday, held annually on the first and second consecutive Friday and Saturday in August. And it is now 90 days until Richard’s Casino badge expires.

Born in 1170 at Calaruega, Burgos, Old Castile as Dominic de Guzman, the family of today’s first Saint was of wealthy Spanish nobility. His mother, Blessed Joan of Aza, had difficulty conceiving, and prayed at the shrine of Saint Dominic of Silos who had a tradition of patronage of that problem; while pregnant, his mother had a vision that her unborn child was a dog who would set the world on fire with a torch it carried in its mouth (a dog with a torch in its mouth became a symbol for the Order which he founded, the Dominicans; the Latin pun on their name, Domini canes, means Hounds of God). At Dominic’s baptism, Blessed Joan saw a star shining from his chest. Dominic studied philosophy and theology at the University of Palencia; in 1194, around twenty-five years old, he joined the Canons Regular in the canonry of Osma, following the rule of Saint Augustine. In 1203 or 1204 he first met the heretical Cathars, also sometimes referred to as the Albigensians. He founded the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans) in 1215; membership in the Order includes friars, congregations of active sisters, and lay persons affiliated with the order (formerly known as tertiaries, now Lay or Secular Dominicans. At one point Dominic became discouraged at the progress of his mission; no matter how much he worked, the heresies remained. But he received a vision from Our Lady who showed him a wreath of roses, representing the rosary. She told him to say the rosary daily, teach it to all who would listen, and eventually the true faith would win out. Dominic is often credited with the invention of the rosary; it actually pre-dates him, but he certainly spread devotion to it, and used it to strengthen his own spiritual life. Throughout his life he is said to have zealously practiced rigorous self-denial. He abstained from meat and observed stated fasts and periods of silence. He selected the worst accommodations and the meanest clothes, and never allowed himself the luxury of a bed. When traveling, he beguiled the journey with spiritual instruction and prayers. As soon as he passed the limits of towns and villages, he took off his shoes, and, however sharp the stones or thorns, he trudged on his way barefooted. Rain and other discomforts elicited from his lips nothing but praises to God. Legend says that he received a vision of a beggar who, like Dominic, would do great things for the Faith. Dominic met the beggar the next day. He embraced him and said, “You are my companion and must walk with me. If we hold together, no earthly power can withstand us.” The beggar was Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan order. Saint Dominic is the Patron Saint of astronomers, scientists, and of the Dominican Republic. Our second Saint was born as Mary Helen MacKillop in 1842 in what is now the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, Victoria (at the time part of an area called Newtown in the then British colony of New South Wales) to parents who had emigrated from Scotland; her father had studied to become a Catholic priest, but left the seminary at the age of 29 just before being ordained. The eldest of eight children, MacKillop was educated at private schools and by her father, and started work at the age of 14 as a clerk in a stationery store in Melbourne. To provide for her needy family, in 1860 she took a job as governess at the estate of her aunt and uncle in Penola, South Australia where she was to look after their children and teach them. Already set on helping the poor whenever possible, she included the other farm children on the  estate as well. This brought her into contact with Father Julian Tenison Woods, who had been the parish priest in the south east since his ordination to the priesthood in 1857. MacKillop stayed for two years at her uncle’s estate before accepting a job teaching the children of Portland, Victoria in 1862. Later she taught at the Portland school and after opening her own boarding school, Bay View House Seminary for Young Ladies, now Bayview College, in 1864, she was joined by the rest of her family. In 1866 Father Woods invited MacKillop and her sisters to come to Penola and to open a Catholic school. Woods was appointed director of education and became the founder, along with MacKillop, of a school they began in a stable; after renovations by their brother, the MacKillops started teaching more than 50 children. At this time MacKillop made a declaration of her dedication to God and began wearing black. On November 23rd, 1866, the feast day of the Presentation of Mary, several other women joined MacKillop and her sisters. MacKillop adopted the religious name of Sister Mary of the Cross and she and her sister began wearing simple religious habits. The small group began to call themselves the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart and moved to a new house in Grote Street, Adelaide. There they founded a new school at the request of Bishop Laurence Bonaventure Sheil OFM. Dedicated to the education of the children of the poor, it was the first religious institute to be founded by an Australian. The “Rule of Life” developed by Woods and MacKillop for the community emphasised poverty, a dependence on divine providence, no ownership of personal belongings, faith that God would provide and willingness to go where needed. The “Rule of Life” was approved by Bishop Sheil. By the end of 1867 ten other women had joined the Josephites, who adopted a plain brown religious habit. Due to the colour of their attire and their name, the Josephite sisters became colloquially known as the “Brown Joeys”. In an attempt to provide education to all the poor, particularly in rural areas, a school was opened in Yankalilla, South Australia, in October 1867. By the end of 1869, more than 70 members of the Sisters of St Joseph were educating children at 21 schools in Adelaide and the country. MacKillop and her Josephites were also involved with an orphanage; neglected children; girls in danger; the aged poor; a reformatory (in Johnstown near Kapunda); and a home for the aged and incurably ill. Generally, the Josephite sisters were prepared to follow farmers, railway workers and miners into the isolated outback and live as they lived. In December 1869, MacKillop and several other sisters travelled to Brisbane to establish the order in Queensland. They were based at Kangaroo Point and took the ferry or rowed across the Brisbane River to attend Mass at St Stephen’s Cathedral. Two years later, she was in Port Augusta, South Australia for the same purpose. The Josephite congregation expanded rapidly and, by 1871, 130 sisters were working in more than 40 schools and charitable institutions across South Australia and Queensland. Bishop Sheil spent less than two years of his episcopate in Adelaide and his absences and poor health left the diocese effectively without clear leadership for much of his tenure. This resulted in bitter factionalism within the clergy and disunity among the lay community. After the founding of the Josephites, Sheil appointed Woods as director general of Catholic education. Woods came into conflict with some of the clergy over educational matters and local clergy began a campaign to discredit the Josephites. As well as allegations of financial incompetence, rumours were also spread that MacKillop had a drinking problem; it was widely known that she drank alcohol on doctor’s orders to relieve the symptoms of dysmenorrhea, which often led to her being bedridden for days at a time. In early 1870 MacKillop and her sister Josephites heard of allegations that a parish priest in Kapunda, to Adelaide’s north, had been sexually abusing children. The Josephites, without referring to MacKillop first, informed Father Woods, who in turn informed the vicar general Father John Smyth, who ultimately sent the priest back to Ireland, allegedly for alcohol abuse. The priest’s former Kapunda colleague, Father Charles Horan OFM, was angered by the removal and there is evidence to suggest he sought revenge against Woods by attacking the Josephites. Horan became acting vicar general after the death of Smyth in June 1870 and from this position sought to influence Bishop Sheil. Horan met with Sheil on September 21st, 1871 and convinced him that the Josephites’ constitution should be changed; the following day, when MacKillop apparently did not accede to the request, Sheil invalidly excommunicated her, citing insubordination as the reason. Though the Josephites were not disbanded, most of their schools were closed in the wake of this action. Forbidden to have contact with anyone in the church, MacKillop lived with a Jewish family and was also sheltered by Jesuit priests. Some of the sisters chose to remain under diocesan control, becoming popularly known as “Black Joeys”. On his deathbed Sheil instructed Horan to lift the excommunication on MacKillop, which was done in 1972. An episcopal commission completely exonerated her. (It should be noted that she had been excommunicated for insubordination to her bishop, not for reporting incidents of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.) After the acquisition of the Mother House in Kensington in 1872, MacKillop made preparations to leave for Rome to have the “Rule of Life” of the Sisters of St Joseph officially approved. She travelled to Rome in 1873  and was encouraged in her work by Pope Pius IX. The authorities in Rome made changes to the way Josephite sisters lived in regards to their commitment to poverty and declared that the superior general and her council were the authorities in charge of the congregation. They assured MacKillop that the congregation and their “Rule of Life” would receive final approval after a trial period. The resulting alterations to the “Rule of Life” regarding ownership of property caused a breach between MacKillop and Woods, who felt that the revised document compromised the ideal of vowed poverty and blamed MacKillop for not getting the document accepted in its original form. When Mackillop returned to Australia in January 1875, after an absence of nearly two years, she brought approval from Rome for her sisters and the work they did, materials for her school, books for the convent library, several priests and most of all, 15 new Josephites from Ireland. Regardless of her success, she still had to contend with the opposition of priests and several bishops. The Josephites were unusual among Catholic church ministries in two ways. Firstly, the sisters lived in the community rather than in convents. Secondly the congregation’s constitutions required administration by a superior general chosen from within the congregation rather than by the bishop, which was uncommon in its day. However, the issues which caused friction were that the Josephites refused to accept government funding, would not teach instrumental music (then considered an essential part of education by the church) and were unwilling to educate girls from more affluent families. This did not change after her unanimous election as superior general in March 1875. After the appointment of Roger Vaughan as Archbishop of Sydney in 1877, life became a little easier for MacKillop and her sisters. Until his death in 1882, the Revd Joseph Tappeiner had given MacKillop his solid support and, until 1883, she also had the support of Bishop Reynolds of Adelaide. The Josephites expanded their operations into New South Wales and New Zealand, and MacKillop relocated to Sydney in 1883 on the instruction of Bishop Reynolds. After the death of Vaughan in 1883, Patrick Francis Moran became archbishop. Although he had a somewhat positive outlook toward the Josephites, he removed MacKillop as superior general and replaced her with Sister Bernard Walsh. In 1883 the order was successfully established at Temuka in New Zealand, where MacKillop stayed for over a year. Pope Leo XIII gave official approval to the Josephites as a congregation in 1885, with its headquarters in Sydney. He gave the final approval to the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart in 1888. Before Woods’ death in 1889 he and MacKillop were personally reconciled, but he did not renew his involvement with the congregation. In 1889 the order was established in the Australian state of Victoria. During all these years MacKillop assisted Mother Bernard with the management of the Sisters of St Joseph. She wrote letters of support, advice and encouragement or just to keep in touch. By 1896 MacKillop was back in South Australia, visiting fellow sisters in Port Augusta, Burra, Pekina, Kapunda, Jamestown and Gladstone. That same year, she travelled again to New Zealand, spending several months in Port Chalmers and Arrowtown in Otago. In 1897 Bishop Maher of Port Augusta arranged for the Sisters of St Joseph to take charge of the St Anacletus Catholic Day School at Petersburg (now Peterborough), and MacKillop founded a convent and base for the Sisters of St Joseph in Petersburg. After the death of Mother Bernard, MacKillop was once more elected unopposed as superior general in 1899, a position she held until her own death. During the later years of her life she had many problems with her health which continued to deteriorate. She suffered from rheumatism and after a stroke in Auckland, New Zealand in 1902, became paralysed on her right side. For seven years, she had to rely on a wheelchair to move around, but her speech and mind were as good as ever and her letter writing had continued unabated after she learned to write with her left hand. Even after suffering the stroke, the Josephite nuns had enough confidence in her to re-elect her in 1905. After her death in 1909 so many people would take earth from around her grave that her remains were transferred to a vault. In 1925 the Mother Superior of the Sisters of St Joseph, Mother Laurence, began the process to have MacKillop declared a saint; after several years of delays the initial phase of investigations was completed in 1973. After further investigations, MacKillop’s “heroic virtue” was declared in 1992. She was beatified in 1995 by Pope John Paul II, and was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, She is the first and (thus far) only Australian to be recognised by the Catholic Church as a saint, and she is the Patron Saint of the fraternal order of Knights of the Southern Cross and of the city of Brisbane, Australia. Turning to the Old War Skule, I entered LSU in the fall of 1976 with the intention of getting a degree in accounting, and emerged four years and one semester later with said degree. During that time I lived on campus in Graham Hall (formerly a men’s dorm, now gone) and in Acadian during the summer semesters, and my last year I lived in a rathole of an apartment on West Roosevelt Street across from the Gay Married Student Housing (named after Edward F. Gay, of course). I was also employed part time starting in 1979; on the LSU campus I worked in Pentagon Cafeteria and at Acadian Cafeteria, and after I got my apartment I worked at the Ourso Department Store on Plank Road. Besides receiving an education, I also met the person who was the roommate of the cousin of my best friend and of Liz Ellen’s friend (who were sisters) in 1977. Seven years later, I was married to the brother of said roommate, who was at LSU from 1975 to 1979, but whom I had never met while at LSU. Today is also the birthday of Richard’s friend Stephen in Mississippi (1957). Louisiana shoppers can make purchases free of the 4 percent state sales tax on most retail items on the second day of the 2015 Louisiana Annual Sales Tax Holiday, held on the first and second consecutive Saturday and Sunday in August. The exemption applies to the first $2,500 of the purchase price of each eligible item. And Richard’s Casino Badge will expire in 90 days; since I already reached the same point with my badge (on July 29th), we will go to the Compliance Department on Tuesday, August 11th to get the paperwork done to renew our badges.

When I woke up today I had a migraine headache, and had no doubt that I should call in to work, which I did. I went back to sleep after taking my meds, and Richard went to work (he was on the Second Mississippi Stud table all day). My headache abated by about 5:00 am, but I was then troubled by my lower back when I would turn over in bed. Along about 9:00 am the doorbell rang, which I ignored (later I found a small Jehovah’s Witness tract in the screen door). I woke up at 10:15 am, set up my medications for next week (nothing to renew), and read the morning paper (which did arrive today, so the Saturday curse has apparently been lifted). Richard arrived home from work, and I did my envelopes for the collection at Mass.

At 12:40 pm I left the house for the Adoration Chapel, where I did my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. During my Hour I started reading Laudato Si, Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment. I still had a ghost of my migraine headache, but was more troubled by my lower back; whenever I stood or walked, it felt (and feels) like a knife digging into my right lower back, and when I was (or am) sitting, moving my right leg from my knee would cause the knife pain as well. After my Hour I went to the Hit-n-Run, where I purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for tonight’s drawing. I then went to McDonald’s, where I ate my lunch and started reading The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. I then went to church, lit my candle, and attended the 4:00 pm Mass, arriving back home at 5:15 pm. I promptly got on the computer to do my Daily Update for today.

Tomorrow is the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, and the Optional Memorial of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr (died 1942). The Perseid Meteor Shower begins tomorrow and lasts through Friday, and we actually might get to see something this year during the dark of the moon. We will go to work for the last day of our two-week pay period (I will attend the Sunday Pre-Shift meeting, as I missed the one today), and on my breaks I will continue reading The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. On our way home we will stop at Wal-Mart so that I can get salad supplies, and once home I will make lunch salads for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, and eat my Sunday salad. And in the afternoon I hope to do an Advance Daily Update Draft or two.

Our Parting Quote on this Saturday afternoon comes to us from Menahem Golan, Israeli movie director and producer. Born as Menahem Globus in 1929 in Tiberias (then in Mandate Palestine), his parents were Jewish immigrants from Russian Poland. He spent his early years in Tiberias, then studied directing at the Old Vic School and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and studied film making at New York University. During the Israeli War of Independence he served as a pilot in the Israeli Air Force and changed his last name to Golan for patriotic reasons. He began his career as an apprentice at Habima Theater in Tel Aviv. After completing his studies in theater direction, he staged plays in Israel. He gained experience as a filmmaker by working as an assistant to Roger Corman. Golan is probably best known as a director for his film Mivtsa Yonatan (Operation Thunderbolt, 1977), about the Israeli raid on Entebbe airport in Uganda. He also produced Eskimo Limon (Lemon Popsicle, 1978), a film that spawned many sequels and an American remake called The Last American Virgin in 1982. In 1979 he and his cousin Yoram Globus purchased Cannon Films for $500,000. The two cousins forged a business model of buying barrel-bottom scripts and putting them into production. In 1979 Golan did an adaptation of an Isaac Bashevis Singer novel entitled The Magician of Lublin. He was responsible for the musical The Apple (1980), an unusual moral fable with a rock-disco soundtrack that appeared on a number of lists of all-time-worst movies, but has since become a cult film. Golan’s production company, The Cannon Group, produced a long line of films during the 1980s and early 1990s, including Delta Force, Runaway Train, and some of the Death Wish sequels. In 1986 Cannon was taken over by Pathe Communications. Golan produced several comic book-style movies in the last half of the 1980s, most notably Masters of the Universe, based on the toys of that name and inspired by the comics of Jack Kirby. Using the pen name of Joseph Goldman, Golan also wrote and “polished” film scripts. In 1987 Cannon gained infamy after their U.K.-based production of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace failed in theaters and provoked a negative backlash from fans. Golan resigned from Cannon in 1989, and by 1993 the company had folded. After Cannon’s collapse, Golan became head of 21st Century Film Corporation and produced several medium-budget films. Golan had hoped to film Spider-Man in 1986 at Cannon studios in United Kingdom, and to shoot the exteriors in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Dolph Lundgren was envisioned as the Green Goblin and Spider-Man creator Stan Lee was approached to make a cameo as J. Jonah Jameson. Golan struggled for years to produce the Marvel Comics character, but he finally failed when 21st Century Film Corporation went bankrupt and closed in 1996 (along with Carolco Pictures, another company that had agreed to help finance the film). Sony Pictures eventually purchased the Spider-Man rights and produced the first film in 2002. That same year Golan released his adaptation of Crime and Punishment. Golan produced about 200 films, directed 44, won 8 Violin David Awards, and also won The Israel Prize in Cinema in 1999. His last film was Marriage Agreement, which he directed in 2008 (died 2014): “If you make an American film with a beginning, a middle and an end, with a budget of less than five million dollars, you must be an idiot to lose money.”

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