Daily Update: Sunday, August 9th, 2015

Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Today is the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, and the Optional Memorial of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr (died 1942). And today starts the peak period for star-gazing for Perseid meteors.

Today’s Saint was born in 1891 at Breslaw, Dolnoslaskie, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland) as Edith Stein, the youngest of seven children in a Jewish family; she lost interest and faith in Judaism by the age of 13. A brilliant student and philosopher with an interest in phenomenology, she studied at the University of Göttingen, Germany and in Breisgau, Germany, and earned her doctorate in philosophy in 1916 at age 25. Witnessing the strength of faith of Catholic friends led her to an interest in Catholicism, which led to studying a catechism on her own, which led to “reading herself into” the Faith. She converted to Catholicism in Cologne, Germany, and was baptized in Saint Martin’s church, Bad Bergzabern, Germany in 1922. Becoming a Carmelite nun in 1934, she took the name in religion of  Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She was a teacher in the Dominican school in Speyer, Germany and a lecturer at the Educational Institute in Munich, Germany; however, anti-Jewish pressure from the Nazis forced her to resign both positions. To avoid the growing Nazi threat, her order transferred her to the Carmelite monastery at Echt in the Netherlands. There she wrote Studie über Joannes a Cruce: Kreuzeswissenschaft (The Science of the Cross: Studies on John of the Cross). The Nazis occupied the Netherlands in 1940, and on July 20, 1942, the Dutch Bishops’ Conference had a public statement read in all the churches of the country condemning Nazi racism. In a retaliatory response on July 26, 1942, the Reichskomissar of the Netherlands, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, ordered the arrest of all Jewish converts, who had previously been spared. Sr. Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rosa, also a convert, were captured and shipped to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where they were gassed on August 9, 1942. The Anti-Defamation League challenged the beatification and subsequent canonization of Edith Stein as a martyr, stating Stein was killed for her Jewish nationality rather than for her faith, and that the misappropriation and Christianization of an event that targeted Jews diminished the memory of the Holocaust. The position of the Catholic Church hierarchy was, and is, that she also died because of the Dutch hierarchy’s public condemnation of Nazi racism in 1942; in other words, that she died to uphold the moral position of the Church, and is thus a true martyr. She was canonized in 1998, and is the Patron Saint of converted Jews and of martyrs, and is one of the Patron Saints of Europe (with St. Benedict of Nursia, Sts. Cyril and Methodius, St. Bridget of Sweden, and St. Catherine of Siena). Today is also the date that begins the peak viewing period for seeing the Perseid meteors, which are associated with Comet Swift-Tuttle. During the peak, which lasts through August 14, the rate of meteors reaches 60 or more per hour, with the best viewing towards the north-east after-midnight sky. All this assumes, of course, a clear night and no moon.

I neglected to mention in yesterday’s Daily Update that we have been under a Heat Advisory for several days, that Richard got his birthday card from Liz Ellen, and that when I left Mass on Saturday afternoon Deacon asked me if the kids were still coming down to baptise the baby, as he had not heard anything.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Fourth Day of my Assumption Novena. After I attended the Pre-Shift Meeting (I had missed my usual one on Saturday), we headed out onto the casino floor. Richard was on Macau Mini Baccarat, which turned into our only Mini Baccarat table; after all of his guests left late in the shift they made it a regular Mini Baccarat table. I was on the second Mississippi Stud table, and midway through the shift I was moved to Pai Gow. My lower back was still quite painful.

On our way home I read the August 2015 issue of Acadiana Catholic (our diocesan magazine), and we stopped at Wal-Mart so that Richard could stock up on his Diet Dr. Pepper. Once home I ate some Baby Swiss Cheese and read the Sunday papers. I then took a nap for the rest of the day, and thus did not do my Daily Update. Before he came to bed Richard gathered up our trash and wheeled the trash bin to the curb.

Tomorrow is the Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (died 258). It is also the birthday of Richard’s good friend Steve in Baton Rouge (1956), and the Perseid meteor shower continues. We are under an Excessive Heat Warning for the afternoon. We will work our eight hours for the first day of the two week pay period at the casino. On my breaks I will do my Daily Update for yesterday, Sunday, August 9th, 2015 via WordPress for Android, then get back to reading The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. I will also go to Human Resources to get a recent pay stub with the casino’s name and address on it. After work we will head to the Clinic, where Richard has an appointment with the Nurse Practitioner, and where I have an appointment with my Health Coach. We will go to Verizon on our way home to straighten out our plan. And that is all I have scheduled, save for doing my Daily Update before going to bed.

Our Parting Quote this Sunday afternoon comes from David Rakoff, Canadian-born American writer. Born in 1964 in Montreal, Quebec, into a Jewish family, his father was a psychiatrist and his mother was a doctor who had practiced psychotherapy. At the age of three his family moved to Toronto. After graduating from high school in 1982 he moved to New York City to attend Columbia University, where he majored in East Asian Studies and studied dance. Rakoff spent his third year of college at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and graduated in 1986. He then worked in Japan as a translator with a fine arts publisher, but his work was interrupted after four months when, at 22, he became ill with Hodgkin’s disease, a form of lymphatic cancer. He returned to Toronto for eighteen months of treatment, including chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. He then moved back to the United States. Rakoff worked for 13 years in the publishing industry, including as a publishing assistant and a publicist. He worked at a literary agency for three years and then as an editor and communications manager for HarperCollins, where he worked for nine years. For a period starting when he was 25, Rakoff wrote as a freelance while working in the publishing industry. He wrote to David Sedaris in 1992, after hearing him read on the radio his essay about being a Christmas elf, to ask if he could publish Sedaris’s works (which he later confessed he had no intention of doing, since he was desperate to leave publishing). They became friends, with Rakoff doing work in the theater with Sedaris, first directing a play written by Sedaris and his sister Amy Sedaris, and later acting in their plays. Through Sedaris, Rakoff met Ira Glass, who was then a junior reporter on the NPR radio program Morning Edition. When Ira Glass began This American Life, Rakoff became involved with the new show at its inception. Sedaris encouraged Rakoff to go on public radio, where Sedaris himself had achieved fame; at his urging Rakoff took work to This American Life, starting with “Christmas Freud”, an account of Rakoff’s job impersonating Sigmund Freud in the window of Barneys department store during the holidays. In the early 1990s, after living in the United States as a resident alien, he was issued his green card. A prolific freelance writer, whose work was published in Conde Nast Traveler, GQOutside Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Business 2.0, Details, Harper’s BazaarNerve, New York Magazine, Salon, Seed, Slate, Spin, The New York Observer, Vogue, Wired, and other publications, Rakoff published three bestselling collections of essays, which included his own illustrations. Both Fraud (2001) and Don’t Get Too Comfortable (2005, about his efforts to obtain United States citizenship; he became a citizen in 2003, while retaining Canadian citizenship) were awarded a Lambda literary award (which recognizes excellence among LGBT writers who use their work to explore LGBT lives), both times in the “Humor” category. Half-Empty (2010) won the 2011 Thurber Prize for American Humor. Rakoff voiced the part of the US President Thomas Jefferson for the audio book of Jon Stewart’s America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction (2004) and provided the voice of Polish-American Leon Czolgosz (the assassin of US President William McKinley) in the audio book version of Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation (2005). He did film work (the back of his head is featured in Capote (2005) as a character dismissive of Harper Lee), and appeared as a modeling agent on the television serial As The World Turns. The episode of This American Life that aired on NPR a week after his death was dedicated entirely to his essays on the program. The episode was titled “Our Friend David.” (2012): “The central drama of my life is about being a fraud, alas. That’s a complete lie, really; the central drama of my life is about being lonely, and staying thin, but fraudulence gets a fair amount of play.”

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