Daily Update: Saturday, October 17th, 2015

Ignatius of Antioch and New River Gorge Bridge Day

Today is the Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (died 107). Today is also Bridge Day at the New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville, West Virginia. And today is the last day for Early Voting for the Louisiana Gubernatorial Primary Election on October 24th.

Born c. 35 in Syria, legend holds that Ignatius was the infant that Jesus took into His arms in the Ninth Chapter of Mark. A convert from paganism to Christianity, he succeeded Saint Peter the Apostle as bishop of Antioch, Syria, serving in that position for some forty years and during the persecution of Domitian. During the persecution of Trajan he was ordered taken to Rome to be killed by wild animals. On the way, a journey which took months, he wrote a series of encouraging letters to the churches under his care. These letters of Ignatius have proved to be important testimony to the development of Catholic theology, since the number of extant writings from this period of Church history is very small. They bear signs of being written in great haste and without a proper plan, such as run-on sentences and an unsystematic succession of thought. Ignatius is the earliest known catholic writer to emphasize loyalty to a single bishop in each city (or diocese) who is assisted by presbyters (possibly elders and deacons). One of the Apostolic Fathers, he was ultimately martyred in the Flavian Amphitheatre by being killed by lions. He is the Patron Saint of the Church in North Africa and of the Eastern Mediterranean; his aid is invoked against diseases of the throat. Turning to more mundane matters, since today is the Third Saturday in October, today is New River Gorge Bridge Day. On this day all four lanes of the bridge near Fayetteville, West Virginia (the third highest vehicular bridge in the nation, and the world’s fourth longest single-span bridge) are closed to automobiles and opened to pedestrians. Bridge Day is the only day of the year people are allowed to BASE jump off the bridge into the New River Gorge 876 feet below. It is one of the few exceptions to a general ban on BASE jumping within the National Park System of the United States (as the Bridge is within the New River Gorge National River area). Around four hundred BASE jumpers participate each year, and since Bridge Day started in 1980, there have been only three fatalities. The first bungee jumper leapt from the bridge during the 1992 Bridge Day. More bungee jumpers leapt during the 1993 Bridge Day; however, injuries sustained during a mass bungee jump that year prompted the banning of bungee jumping at Bridge Day. And Bridge Day has only been cancelled once, in 2001 following the 9/11 terrorist attacks; before 2001, two lanes of the bridge remained open to vehicular traffic on Bridge Day, but since 2001 all four lanes of the bridge are closed on Bridge Day. And today is the last day for Early Voting for the Louisiana Gubernatorial Primary Election on October 24th.

I woke up with a headache and sore throat today, did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and did my Internet Devotional Reading on our way to work. At the Pre-Shift Meeting we were told that we (employees) will have to start parking in the parking lot that had originally been designed for Valet (but which had turned out to be far too far from the Valet stand to be practical). So we get to park there, which means we will be getting our exercise. When we went out to the casino floor Richard was on Mini Baccarat; I was on Macau Mini Baccarat, closed that table, then I was on the Sit-Down Blackjack Table (with a $25.00 minimum bet) for the rest of the day, and never was without players except for a few minutes after 10:00 am. On my breaks I started reading All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

On our way home I continued reading; once we got home I set up my medications for next week (I have one prescription to renew on Monday). Richard went to get his hair cut, and I read the morning paper. I then went to the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration, and continued reading (but did not finish) the September 28th, 2015 issue of my Jesuit America magazine. When I came home Richard and I took a nap, then I finished my Advance Daily Update Drafts while Richard went to get pizza pizza from Little Caesars, which we ate for the kickoff of #6 LSU Tigers vs. #8 Florida Gators. And our New Orleans Pelicans are playing an away Preseason game with the Sacramento Kings. (I will record the scores of both games in tomorrow’s Daily Update.)

Tomorrow is the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time and the Feast of Saint Luke, Evangelist (died c. 74). Tomorrow is also World Mission Sunday. Finally, tomorrow is the anniversary of the date in 1999 when I first started working at the casino. (Richard started working at the casino in 2000. In 2001 I had colon cancer, was out for three months, and was terminated. I started back again at the casino in December 2001, with my old employee number again, but for purposes of determining how long I have been at the casino, they go with my second hire date.) We will work our eight hours on the last day of this pay period, and on my breaks I will continue reading All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr; I would like to have the book half-way read before I go to bed tomorrow.

Our Saturday Afternoon Parting Quote comes to us from Mother Antonia, American Catholic nun and activist. Born as Mary Clarke in 1926 in Los Angeles, California, her father was a successful businessman, and she was raised in Beverly Hills. She married young, and had seven children with two husbands. Not content with just raising a family, she was also heavily involved in charitable activities, all the while running her deceased father’s business. In 1969, at the age of 43, she had a dream that she was a prisoner at Calvary and about to be executed when Jesus appeared to her and offered to take her place. She refused his offer, touched him on the cheek, and told him she would never leave him, no matter what happened to her. At some point in the 1970s she chose to devote her life to the Church, in part because of this dream. In a period of just a few years, she divorced, sold her home and possessions, and began to serve full time the prisoners at La Mesa penitentiary in Tijuana, Mexico. As an older, divorced woman, Clarke was banned by church rules from joining any established religious order, so she went about her work on her own. After a year her service to prisoners came to the attention of Bishop Juan Jesus Posadas of Tijuana and Bishop Leo Maher of neighboring San Diego. She was officially welcomed and blessed by both Bishops; Bishop Maher made her an auxiliary to him while Bishop Posadas made her an auxiliary Mercedarian, an order which has a special devotion to prisoners. At age fifty, she had become a sister. At the La Mesa penitentiary, she lived in a 10’ x 10’ concrete room with a cot as her bed, and with a Bible and Spanish dictionary nearby. Sister Antonia provided not only spiritual guidance to the guards and inmates, but continued to help with basic material comforts for prisoners such as blankets, toiletries and medicines. In 1997 Sister Antonia’s mission expanded. Many had heard of her ministry and offered to help and some even wanted to follow in her footsteps. With encouragement from the Bishops and many other supporters, Sister Antonia initiated the process of forming a religious community to be known as the Eudist Servants Of The Eleventh Hour. In 2003 the community was formally accepted by the Bishop of Tijuana. She was profiled in the 2006 book The Prison Angel: Mother Antonia’s Journey from Beverly Hills to a Life of Service in a Mexican Jail by Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan. The road outside the jail, known until recently as “Los Pollos” (“The Chickens”), was renamed in November 2007 to “Madre Antonia” in her honor. On September 25, 2009, she received the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award, presented at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego. In 2010 Estudio Frontera released a DVD documentary on Mother Antonia’s life, La Mama: An American Nun’s Life in a Mexican Prison. Produced and written by Jody Hammond, photographed and edited by Ronn Kilby, and narrated by Susan Sarandon, the film took five years to make (died 2013): “Everything you do either adds to the beauty of the world or takes away from it.”

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