Daily Update: Monday, September 28th, 2015

Sukkot 2 and Wenceslaus, Lawrence Ruiz, John Paul I and Banned Books Week 2015

Since sunset last night it has been the beginning of the Jewish feast of Sukkot, the harvest festival. Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Wenceslaus, King and Martyr (died 929 or 935), the Optional Memorial of Saint Lawrence Ruiz, Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (died 1637), and the Remembrance of Servant of God John Paul I, Pope (died 1978). In other Catholic news, it is also the anniversary of my baptism into the Catholic Faith (as an infant) in 1958. Banned Books Week continues, and today is the birthday of my friend Annette in Virginia (1956) and of my friend Melissa in Virginia (1971).

The holiday of Sukkot lasts for seven days, and during those days observant Jews eat, sleep, and live as much as possible in temporary huts called Sukkot. A sukkah (singular of sukkot) must have 3 walls, should be at least three feet tall, and be positioned so that all or part of its roof is open to the sky. A sukkah can be built on the ground or on an open porch or balcony. The roof covering, known as s‘chach in Hebrew, must consist of something that grew from the earth but is currently disconnected from it. Palm leaves, bamboo sticks, pine branches, wood and the like can all be used for s’chach, unless they were processed previously for a different use. There must be enough s’chach that inside the sukkah there should be more shade than sun. However, there must be sufficient gaps between the pieces of s’chach so that rain can come through. Leviticus describes the sukkah as a symbolic wilderness shelter, commemorating the time God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness they inhabited after they were freed from slavery in Egypt. Turning to our Saints and others, Saint Wenceslaus was born in 907 at Prague, Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic), the son of Vratislav I, Duke of Bohemia, whose family had been converted by Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, and Drahomira, daughter of a pagan chief; she was baptized on her wedding day, but apparently never seriously took to the faith. In 921, when Wenceslaus was thirteen, his father died and he was brought up by his grandmother, Saint Ludmila, who raised him as a Christian; Drahomira went fully back to her pagan roots and had Ludmila strangled. In 924 or 925 Wenceslaus assumed government for himself and had Drahomíra exiled. In September of 935 (in older sources 929) a group of nobles allied with his younger brother, Boleslav (Boleslav I of Bohemia), in a plot to kill the prince. After Boleslav invited Wenceslaus to the feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian in Stará Boleslav, three of Boleslav’s companions murdered him on his way to church. Boleslav thus succeeded him as the Duke of Bohemia. Good King Wenceslaus (of the Christmas song of the same name, written in 1853) is the Patron Saint of Bohemia, the Czech Republic, and of the city of Prague, and September 28 is Czech Statehood Day. We also honor Saint Lawrence Ruiz, Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (died 1637). Born about 1600 in Binondo, Manila, Philippines, he was the son of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother (both Roman Catholics), and learned both Chinese and Tagalog. After being educated by the Dominican Friars for a few years (and serving as an altar boy), he married and started a family. In 1636, while working as a clerk at the Binondo Church, Ruiz was accused of killing a Spaniard. He sought asylum on board a ship with three Dominican priests, a Japanese priest, and a leper; it was not until the ship sailed that Ruiz found that they were bound for Japan. The boat landed at Okinawa and the group was arrested and persecuted for their Christian religion. They were brought to Nagasaki on July 10, 1636. They were tortured through being hung by their feet, by being submerged in water until near death, and by water torture. Needles were also inserted in their finger nails, and they were beaten until unconscious. Finally, Ruiz and his companions were taken to the “Mountain of Martyrs”, where they were hung upside down into a pit known as horca y hoya, or tsurushi. This mode of torture was considered as the most painful way to die at the time because it involved the use of rocks to add weight to the person being punished. The individual being tortured suffocated quickly while being crushed by his own weight. Two days after this torture started, Ruiz died from hemorrhage and suffocation. His body was cremated and his ashes were thrown into the sea. He was canonized in 1987, making him the first Filipino saint and the first Filipino martyr. He is the Patron Saint of the poor, of separated families, of Chinese-Filipinos, of Tagalogs, of Filipino migrants and overseas workers, of the country of the Philippines, and of the Archdiocese of Manila in the Philippines. We also honor Servant of God John Paul I, Pope (died 1978). Born as Albino Luciani in 1912 in Canale d’Agordo, Italy, the son of a bricklayer, he entered the minor seminary of Feltre in 1923, where his teachers found him “too lively”, and later went on to the major seminary of Belluno. During his stay at Belluno he attempted to join the Jesuits but was denied by the seminary’s rector, Bishop Giosuè Cattarossi. Ordained a priest in 1935, he then served as a curate in his native Forno de Canale before becoming a professor and the vice-rector of the Belluno seminary in 1937. Among the different subjects, he taught dogmatic and moral theology, canon law, and sacred art. In 1941 he began to seek a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, which required at least one year’s attendance in Rome. However, the seminary’s superiors wanted him to continue teaching during his doctoral studies; the situation was resolved by a special dispensation of Pope Pius XII himself in 1941. His thesis (The origin of the human soul according to Antonio Rosmini) largely attacked Rosmini’s theology, and earned him his doctorate magna cum laude. In 1947 he was named vicar general to Bishop Girolamo Bortignon, OFM Cap, of Belluno. Two years later, in 1949, he was placed in charge of diocesan catechetics. In 1958 he was appointed Bishop of Vittorio Veneto by Pope John XXIII; as a bishop, he participated in all the sessions of the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965). In 1969 he was appointed Patriarch of Venice by Pope Paul VI and took possession of the archdiocese on 3 February 1970. Pope Paul created Luciani Cardinal-Priest of S. Marco in the consistory of 1973. He was elected on the fourth ballot of the August 1978 papal conclave; after considering calling himself Pius XIII, he chose the regnal name of John Paul I, the first double name in the history of the papacy, explaining in his Angelus that he took it as a thankful honor to his two immediate predecessors: John XXIII, who had named him a bishop, and Paul VI, who had named him Patriarch of Venice and a cardinal. He was also the first (and so far only) pope to use “the first” in his regnal name. He was also the first pope to choose an “investiture” to commence his papacy rather than the traditional papal coronation. The first Pope born in the 20th century, in Italy he was known as Il Papa del Sorriso (The Smiling Pope) and Il Sorriso di Dio (God’s Smile). He died just 33 days into his Papacy; the Vatican reported that he had died of a heart attack, although in accordance with custom no autopsy was performed. In 2003 he was named a Servant of God, the first step towards Canonization; if you know of any miracles that can be attributed to his intercession, please contact the Vatican. In other Catholic notes, today is the anniversary of my baptism into the Catholic Faith as an infant in 1958. For some reason, my parents picked friends of theirs to be my godparents; we moved from the city of my birth when I was not quite five years old (I can just barely remember the old Latin mass), and so I essentially never knew my godparents.  Today is the second day of Banned Books Week. So read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain today! And today is the birthday of my friend Annette in Virginia (1956) and of my friend Melissa in Virginia (1971).

The Total Lunar Eclipse began last evening at 7:12 pm; the Full Moon arrived at 9:52 pm, and the Total Lunar Eclipse ended at 12:22 am, or just as I was getting out of bed to get ready for our work day.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and gathered up the trash; Richard opted to not put the current bag of trash in the trash bin (we had one in there already, from not putting the trash out last Thursday), and he just wheeled the bin to the curb. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Seventh Day of my Novena to Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus. Once we clocked in, Richard was the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat and Pai Gow, and had to break a Blackjack Game once at the beginning of his shift. I started my day on the Sit-Down Blackjack table; when that table closed, I went to take a break, and was called into the shift office to meet with our Assistant Shift Manager. Yesterday, when I was on Mississippi Stud all day, my Floor Supervisor felt that I was being dismissive of her several times at the table, and she was upset enough after work to take it to the Assistant Shift Manager. Upon reflection, I allowed how I had not meant to hurt her or upset her; but I had remarked (when she had asked, “Who changed that last $100.00?) and I answered, “Mr. Carl”) that as a floor she ought to know the names of the guests, and again, when the shuffle machine had malfunctioned in the middle of my dealing a hand, that I had, instead of calling my Floor, announced “Dead Hand” and took up the cards, without her say-so. I honestly had no idea that my Floor was upset by my words or actions, which is a reminder to me to be more gentle with my words and actions in general, and with this Floor Supervisor in particular. (She is relatively young – relative to me, anyway – and unsure of herself when flooring dealers who have been at the casino for forever, like me.) When I finally got back out to the floor, after this 45-minutes meeting with my Assistant Shift Manager and the Floor Supervisor, I was on the Blackjack Shoe Game in our High Stakes area for an hour; when they closed another table I was given the option of going to Mississippi Stud, which I jumped at (I hate being in the High Stakes Area), so I was on Mississippi Stud for the rest of the day. On my breaks I continued reading The Mauritius Command by Patrick O’Brian.

On our way home I continued reading, and Richard got gas for the truck. Once home I read the morning paper, then took a nap; while I was sleeping Richard went to the store for groceries. I woke up at 4:15 pm, watched Jeopardy!, then came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update while eating meatball stew over rice and canned corn for our dinner. I also printed out our Pay Stubs and our Accrued PTO Time for this current pay period (which I also do on our nominal Payday Monday, even though we get our salaries deposited into our bank account after business hours on Friday evenings. And when I finish this Daily Update I will do some reading before going to sleep.

Tomorrow is the Feast of Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, and Saint Raphael, Archangels, and Banned Books Week continues into its third day. Tomorrow is also the birthday of Bob, the husband of Richard’s sister Bonnie in Texas (1934). We will work our eight hours on our Friday at the casino, and in the evening I will work on the computer doing Advance Daily Update Drafts.

On this Monday afternoon we have a Parting Quote from James Emanuel, American expatriate educator and poet. Born in 1921 in Alliance, Nebraska, his father died when he was a child, and his mother taught him to depend upon himself. He spent his early years working a variety of jobs in the western United States. At age twenty in 1942 he joined the United States Army and served as confidential secretary to the Assistant Inspector General of the U.S. Army Benjamin O. Davis, Sr, the Army’s first black general. After his discharge in 1946, he did his undergraduate work at Howard University, graduating in 1950 and obtained graduate degrees from Northwestern University (M.A.) and Columbia University (Ph.D.). He then moved to New York City; at the City College of New York (CUNY), he taught the college’s first class on African-American poetry in the 1960s and mentored future scholars such as Addison Gayle Jr. In 1967 he published his first book, Langston Hughes, a close analysis of that poet’s work adapted from his doctoral thesis. Emanuel edited, with Theodore Gross, the the influential anthology Dark Symphony: Negro Literature in America in 1968. The anthology was one of the first major collections of African American writings, and this work, and Emanuel’s work as an educator, heavily influenced the birth of the African American literature genre. That same year he published his first book of poetry, The Treehouse and Other Poems. Frustrated with the state of racism in the United States, when offered teaching positions at European universities in the late 1960’s he left the country. Emanuel eventually taught at the University of Toulouse (as a Fulbright scholar in 1968–1969), at the University of Grenoble, and at the University of Warsaw. He also edited five Broadside Critics books (1971–1975) and wrote a number of critical essays. In 1978 he published the poetry collection Black Man Abroad. When his only child committed suicide after being beaten by police in 1983 he vowed never to return to the United States. In 1991 he published Whole Grain: Collected Poems, 1958-1989. Emanuel is credited with creating a new literary genre, jazz-and-blues haiku, which he read to musical accompaniment throughout Europe and Africa. For this creation he was awarded the Sidney Bechet Creative Award in 1996. In 2000 a collection of Emanuel letters and writings were placed in the United States Library of Congress. Included in the letters were correspondence with Gwendolyn Brooks, Ralph Ellison, Benjamin O. Davis, Ossie Davis, W. E. B. Du Bois, and many others. His memoir, The Force and the Reckoning, a blend of autobiography, poems, essays and other writing, was published in 2001. He was awarded the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Achievement in 2007 from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Throughout his life he published 300 poems and published 13 books, but his expatriate status and an inclination to stand apart made him, in the opinion of many critics, one of the best, and one of the most overlooked, poets of his time (died 2013): “Four-letter word JAZZ: / naughty, sexy, cerebral, / but solarplexy.”

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