Daily Update: Friday, August 14th, 2015

Michael J. McGivney and Maximilian Mary Kolbe

Today is the Remembrance of Venerable Michael J. McGivney, Priest (died 1890) and the Optional Memorial of Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, Priest and Martyr (died 1941). The Perseid Meteor Shower ends today. (If you did not see any, better luck next year.)

Born in 1852 in Waterbury, Connecticut, the son of Irish immigrants, McGivney entered Séminaire de Saint-Hyacinthe in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada in 1868. He continued his studies at Niagara University (1871-1872) and at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland in 1873, but had to leave the seminary and return home to help finish raising his siblings due to the death of his father. He later returned to the seminary and was ordained a priest on December 22, 1877 by Archbishop James Gibbons at the Baltimore Cathedral. On February 2, 1882, while an assistant pastor at Saint Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut, McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus with a small group of parishioners.  The order now has over 1.8 million member families and fourteen thousand councils. In 2013 the Order gave over $170.1 million directly to charity and performed over 70.5 million man-hours of voluntary service. The Order’s insurance program has more than $90 billion of life insurance policies in force, backed up by $19.8 billion in assets, and holds the highest insurance ratings given by A. M. Best and the Insurance Marketplace Standards Association. In 2008 Father McGivney was declared Venerable; if you know of any miracles that can be attributed to his intercession, please contact the Vatican. Today we also honor Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, Priest and Martyr (died 1941). Born in 1894 at Zdunska Wola, Poland as Raymond Kolbe, his parents were both Franciscan lay tertiaries and worked as weavers. His father later ran a religious book store, then enlisted in the army of Pilsudski, fought for Polish independence from Russia, and was hanged by the Russians as a traitor in 1914; his mother later became a Benedictine nun. In 1906, at the age of twelve, the self-willed boy had a vision of Mary that reformed his life. He entered the Franciscan junior seminary in Lwow, Poland in 1907 where he excelled in mathematics and physics. For a while he wanted to abandon the priesthood for the military, but eventually relented to the call to religious life, and in 1910 he became a novice in the Conventual Franciscan Order at age 16. He took the name Maximilian, made his first vows in 1911, and made his final vows in 1914. He studied philosophy at the Jesuit Gregorian College in Rome from 1912 to 1915, and theology at the Franciscan Collegio Serafico in Rome from 1915 to 1919. In 1917, while still in seminary, he and six friends founded the Immaculata Movement (Militia Immaculatae, Crusade of Mary Immaculate) devoted to the conversion of sinners, opposition to freemasonry (which was extremely anti-Catholic at the time), spread of the Miraculous Medal (which they wore as their habit), and devotion to Our Lady and the path to Christ. He was stricken with tuberculosis which nearly killed him, and left him in frail in health the rest of his life. Ordained in 1918 in Rome at age 24, he received his Doctor of Theology in 1922. Maximilian returned to Poland in 1919 to teach history in the Krakow seminary, but had to take a medical leave from 1920 to 1921 to be treated for tuberculosis at the hospital at Zakpane in the Tatra Mountains. In January 1922 he began publication of the magazine Knight of the Immaculate to fight religious apathy; by 1927 the magazine had a press run of 70,000 issues. He was forced to take another medical leave from 1926 to 1927, but the work continued. The friaries from which he had worked were not large enough for his work, and in 1927 Polish Prince Jan Drucko-Lubecki gave him land at Teresin near Warsaw. There he founded a new monastery of Niepokalanow, the City of the Immaculate which was consecrated in 1927. At its peak the Knight of the Immaculate had a press run of 750,000 copies a month. A junior seminary was started on the grounds in 1929. Not content with his work in Poland, Maximilian and four brothers left for Japan in 1930. Within a month of their arrival, penniless and knowing no Japanese, Maximilian was printing a Japanese version of the Knight; the magazine, Seibo no Kishi, grew to a circulation of 65,000 by 1936. In 1931 he founded a monastery in Nagasaki, Japan comparable to Niepokalanow. It survived the war, including the nuclear bombing, and serves today as a center of Franciscan work in Japan. In mid-1932 he left Japan for Malabar, India where he founded a third Niepokalanow house. However, due to a lack of manpower, it did not survive. Poor health forced him to curtail his missionary work and return to Poland in 1936. In 1938 the monastery started its own radio station. By 1939 the monastery housed a religious community of nearly 800 men, the largest in the world in its day, and was completely self-sufficient including medical facilities and a fire brigade staffed by the religious brothers. He was arrested with several of his brothers in 1939 following the Nazi invasion of Poland; others at the monastery were briefly exiled, but the prisoners were released three months later, and the men returned to their work. Back at Niepokalanow he continued his priestly ministry, The brothers housed 3,000 Polish refugees, two-thirds of whom were Jewish, and continued their publication work, including materials considered anti-Nazi. For this work the presses were shut down, the congregation suppressed, the brothers dispersed, and Maximilian was imprisoned in Pawiak prison, Warsaw, Poland in February 1941. In May 1941 he was transferred to Auschwitz and branded as prisoner 16670. He was assigned to a special work group staffed by priests and supervised by especially vicious and abusive guards. His calm dedication to the faith brought him the worst jobs available, and more beatings than anyone else. At one point he was beaten, lashed, and left for dead. The prisoners managed to smuggle him into the camp hospital where he spent his recovery time hearing confessions. When he returned to the camp, Maximilian ministered to other prisoners, including conducting Mass and delivering communion using smuggled bread and wine. In July 1941 there was an escape from the camp. Camp protocol, designed to make the prisoners guard each other, required that ten men be slaughtered in retribution for each escaped prisoner. Francis Gajowniczek, a married man with young children was chosen to die for the escape. Maximilian volunteered to take his place, and died as he had always wished, in service. Canonized in 1982 by Pope John Paul II and declared a Martyr of Charity, he is the Patron Saint of prisoners, political prisoners, drug addicts, amateur radio, the pro-life movement, and journalists. Also, the Perseid Meteor Shower ends today.

Last night while taking a bath I finished reading the August 10th, 2015 issue of Sports Illustrated. And in last night’s preseason pro football game, our New Orleans Saints lost to the Baltimore Ravens by the score of 27 to 30. Our Saints will play again on Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome against the New England Patriots.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, put a corn pad on my corn on my left foot between my toes, and put on my new shoes. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Ninth and Final Day of my Assumption Novena. Once we clocked in Richard was on Pai Gow, and not very busy; I was on Mini Baccarat, and did a no-hitter. (My Relief Dealer did deal to a person for eleven hands, but they were gone before I got back from that break.) On my breaks I started reading The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott on my Nook. And the New Moon arrived at 9:55 am.

When we clocked out at 11:00 am, we went over to the Compliance Department and filled out the paperwork to start the process of renewing our casino badges. I then went to Uniforms (literally next door) to get a new name tag, as the clip on mine was hanging on merely by a hope and a prayer. On our way out of the casino I picked up a pack of dice from the Security podium. When we got back into town we stopped at Auto Zone, where Richard got some anchors for the trunk of my car. Once home from work at 12:15 pm, Richard found that he could attach the cargo net in the truck of my new car by unscrewing the anchor that was on the right hand side a little and slipping the loop over it before tightening it up again. Meanwhile I read the morning paper and ate my lunch salad, then took a nap until 5:00 pm, when a sense of my responsibilities hauled me out of bed (Richard had just gone to bed) to do an Advance Daily Update Draft , to get our schedules for three weeks hence, and to do today’s Daily Update. When I finish I will go out to my car and plug in all of my FM channel presets on the radio of my new car.

Tomorrow is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, normally a Holy Day of Obligation, but since tomorrow is a Saturday the American Bishops have relaxed the requirement. Tomorrow is also the National Day of the Acadians. Being a Saturday, we will be at the casino working, and it will probably be busier than today was. On my breaks I will continue reading The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott on my Nook. When we get home from work I will set up my medications for next week and read the paper, then go to the Adoration Chapel for my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. After my Hour I will eat lunch at McDonald’s and do some reading, then attend the 4:00 pm Mass before coming home to do my Daily Update.

Our Parting Quote on this Friday afternoon comes to us from Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum, American cross-stitch embroidery designer. Born as Marilyn Leavitt in 1946 in Youngstown, Ohio, after high school she began working as a file clerk at Strouss and Hartzell, Rose and Sons clothing store. After eight months she was promoted to being the childrens’ advertising artist. She quit when she got married and started having children, doing freelance art work. She then returned to the store, this time as the top fashion illustrator at the advertising office. She and her third husband then moved to the country, and she learned to love the Amish who lived nearby while spending her days quilting, gardening, painting and cross stitching. In 1985 she and her family moved back to the city, and she stitched her first design, “The Quilting”, for her home, because she felt that the Amish designs available did not show the true spirit of the Amish that she had come to know. Her local needlework store asked her to graph the piece so that the design could be sold; using Xerox copies, sandwich bags, and photos, she made twenty-five copies of her graph, and at $5.00 apiece they sold out in three days. From this beginning she started her own business, Told in a Garden, distributing her designs. Working from home was a godsend for her, as she was confined to a wheelchair due to bouts of multiple sclerosis but did not publicize her condition. She also started her own website online to market her designs. Within a decade her Victorian angel designs were considered among the most popular cross-stitch designs available. In 2000 she publicly stated her opposition to digital piracy of needlework patterns (died 2012): “I have learned art, business and life from others, making it up as I go along. I follow my heart and am always amazed at the results.”

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