Daily Update: Friday, December 4th, 2015

John Damascene

Today is the First Friday of the month, dedicated to devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And today is the Optional Memorial of Saint John of Damascus, Priest, Religious, and Doctor (died 749).

The First Friday of each month is dedicated to devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Turing to today’s Saint, he was born in 676 at Damascus, Syria, and was the son of Mansur, representative of the Christians to the court of the Muslim caliph. He apparently thrived as a Christian in a Saracen land, and was tutored in his youth by a captured Italian monk named Cosmas. Between the Christian teaching from the monk, and that of the Muslim schools, John became highly educated in the classical fields (geometry, literature, logic, rhetoric, etc.). Like his father and grandfather before him, he served the Caliph as chief financial officer. He defended the use of icons and images in churches through a series of letters opposing the anti-icon decrees of Emperor Leo III. Legend says that the Emperor plotted against him, and forged a letter in which John betrayed the caliph; the caliph ordered John’s writing hand chopped off, but the Virgin Mary appeared and re-attached the hand, a miracle which restored the caliph’s faith in him. After this incident John became a monk near Jerusalem, later being ordained priest in 735. He was anathematized by name by the 754 Council of Constantinople over his defense of the use of icons, but was defended by the 787 Seventh Council of Nicea. He wrote The Fountain of Wisdom, the first real compendium of Christian theology, along with other works defending the orthodox faith, commentaries on Saint Paul the Apostle, poetry, and hymns. An orator, he was such an excellent speaker that he was known as Chrysorrhoas (“golden-stream”). The last of the Greek Fathers of the Church, and the first of the Christian Aristotelians, he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1890 by Pope Leo XIII. When the name of Saint John of Damascus was inserted in the General Roman Calendar in 1890 it was assigned to March 27th. This date always falls within Lent, a period during which there are no obligatory Memorials. The feast day was therefore moved in 1969 to the day of the saint’s death, December 4th, the day on which his feast day is celebrated also in the Byzantine Rite calendar.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and on our way to work did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Sixth Day of my Novena to the Immaculate Conception. Once we clocked in at the casino, Richard was the Relief Dealer for Mississippi Stud and Three Card Poker, with the second Mississippi Stud game added to his string at the end of our shift. I was on Pai Gow all day, and had only about five different guests; most of the time I was standing dead at the table. (A “live table” is one with guests playing; a “dead table” is one with no guests, but the dealer is there waiting more or less expectantly for guests to come play.) During our shift Richard signed his paperwork for his annual raise, and I got my annual evaluation, which was good. I also got both a text message and an Email from Verizon, advising me that I am close to exceeding my 6gb limit for this cycle (which I knew already; we used a lot of gb while on our vacation, as our cycle began on November 10th). They advised me that I could either pay $15.00 in overage charges, or else pay an additional $15.00 per month to have 8gb. I am at 5.459gb right now, and I plan to opt to pay the overage charge, rather than go up to 8gb per month, as normally I am nowhere near exceeding my 6gb limit.

When we got home I read the morning paper and ate my lunch salad. Richard and I then found out that the Frankenstein (2004) mini-series airing will be on December 14th (not December 4th), so we will watch it then. I did an Advance Daily Update Draft, and, upon doing some research, found that the latest version of Facebook for Android (4.0) does not allow for Facebook contacts to be synched with my Google Contacts. However, when I uninstalled all the updates to Facebook, I found I was back to Facebook (2014), which does allow for syncing with my Google Contacts. And I changed my Google Play setting so that my apps will not auto-update, so that my Facebook does not auto-update back up to 4.0. And I will finish my Daily Update now, watch Jeopardy! at 4:30 pm, light the Advent Candle, and then take a hot bath and do some reading before I go to bed. Our New Orleans Pelicans will play a home game with the Cleveland Cavaliers this evening; I will post the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the First Saturday of the month, dedicated to devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We have no Saints to honor, so we will instead note that in 1484 Pope Innocent VIII issued Summis desiderantes affectibus, a papal bull that deputized Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger as inquisitors to root out alleged witchcraft in Germany. We will work our eight hours, and in the afternoon I will go to the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. I will then eat lunch at McDonald’s, then go to Mass, come home, light the Advent Candle, and head for bed.

On this First Friday Afternoon our Parting Quote comes to us from Claudia Emerson, American poet. Born in 1957 in Chatham, Virginia,  she graduated from Chatham Hall preparatory school in 1975. She received her BA in English from the University of Virginia in 1979 and her Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1991. She taught at several colleges including Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia and Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. She spent over a decade at the University of Mary Washington, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, as an English professor and the Arrington Distinguished Chair in Poetry. She married musician Kent Ippolito in 2000. The couple lived in Richmond, Virginia, and performed and wrote songs together. Emerson published five poetry collections through Louisiana State University Press: Pharaoh, Pharaoh (1997), Pinion: An Elegy (2002), Late Wife (2005), Figure Studies: Poems (2008), and Secure the Shadow (2012). In addition to her collections, Emerson’s work was included in such anthologies as Yellow Shoe Poets, The Made Thing, Strongly Spent: 50 Years of Shenandoah Poetry, and Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets of Virginia. In 2002 Emerson was Guest Editor of Visions-International (published by Black Buzzard Press). She won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for her poetry collection Late Wife, returned to Chatham Hall  in 2008 to serve as The Siragusa Foundation’s Poet-in-Residence, and was named the Poet Laureate of Virginia by then-Governor Tim Kaine in 2008, a position she held until 2010. In 2013 Emerson joined the creative writing faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, where she taught until her death from colon cancer at age 57. A sixth collection of poems, titled The Opposite House, was set to be released posthumously in March 2015 (died 2014): “I remember hearing Toni Morrison talk about her characters—I think it was Toni Morrison. She said she heard them, you know, and I remember, as a poet, for a long time I thought, “I don’t quite understand that,” but now I do.”

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