Daily Update: Friday, December 11th, 2015

Damasus I

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Damasus I, Pope (died 384).

Born in Rome, the family of today’s Saint was of Spanish origin. His father was a priest in Rome, and for a time Damasus served as a deacon in his father’s church of  Saint Laurence. Becoming a priest Damasus served as assistant to Pope Liberius. Upon the death of Liberius, Damasus was chosen as the  37th pope in a disputed election in which a minority chose the anti-pope Ursinus. The two reigned simultaneously in Rome which eventually led to violence between their supporters and false accusations of Damasus having committed a crime. His pontificate suffered from the rise of Arianism and from several schisms including break-away groups in Antioch, Constantinople, Sardinia, and Rome. However, it was during Damasus’s reign that Christianity was declared the religion of the Roman state. He enforced the 370 edict of Emperor Valentinian controlling gifts to prelates, and opposed Arianism and Apollinarianism. He supported the 374 council of Rome which decreed the valid books of the Bible, and the Grand Council of Constantinople in 381 which condemned Arianism. He was the economic patron of his secretary, Saint Jerome, commissioning him to make the translation of scripture now known as the Vulgate. Damasus restored catacombs, shrines, and the tombs of martyrs, and wrote poetry and metrical inscriptions about and dedicated to martyrs. Ten of his letters, personal and pontifical, have survived. He is the Patron Saint of archaeologists.

Our mail yesterday brought me a Christmas Card from my Internet friend Sonya in Colorado. And after I finished my Daily Update I made my lunch salads for Friday and Sunday, and lit the Advent Candles and the Candles for the Fifth Night of Hanukkah, before I went to bed (after extinguishing the candles; one is supposed to let Hanukkah candles burn all the way down, but I was not going to have that happen while I was not awake to mind them).

When I woke up to get ready for work, Richard had called in. I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and drove myself to work in the car. Once at the casino I did my Internet Devotional Reading, then, after clocking in, I signed the Early Out list with little expectation of getting out early. I was the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat (which had one or two players for about ten minutes or so every so often) and for Pai Gow (dead as a doornail). The New Moon arrived at 4:30 am. At 7:00 am Richard sent me a text asking me to pick up his prescription at the Pharmacy. To my great surprise, I got out at 7:30 am. I went to the Clinic, where I set up to have blood drawn for lab work on December 21st ahead of my appointment with my Oncologist on December 29th. I then picked up Richard’s prescription, and on my way home called him to see if he needed me to pick up anything for him. I stopped at Wal-Mart and got an Anniversary Card (more anon), and got home at 8:45 am.

I took a short nap, then spent an hour cleaning out my closet. I then ate my lunch salad and read the morning paper. Richard went to take a nap, and our mail brought me a Christmas Card from my friend Danette here in Louisiana. I then got on the computer and did Advance Daily Update Drafts through December 21st. Then I started today’s Daily Update. When I finish this Daily Update I will go watch Jeopardy!, light the Advent Candles and the candles for the Sixth Night of Hanukkah and get something to eat, then head to bed. Our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing a home game with the Washington Wizards this evening; I will post the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Richard and I will work our eight hours at the casino. We will sign and mail off the anniversary card I purchased to Matthew and Callie. In the afternoon I will do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration, eat lunch at McDonald’s, and (perhaps) go to Mass. Our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing an away game with the Chicago Bulls tomorrow evening, and I will post the score in Sunday’s Daily Update.

Our Parting Quote on this Friday afternoon comes to us from Barbara Branden, Canadian-born author. Born as Barbara Weidman in 1929 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, she moved to Los Angeles to study philosophy at UCLA, where she became engaged to Nathaniel Branden, who shared her passion for the ideas of Ayn Rand. They arranged to meet Rand at her home in the San Fernando Valley in 1950, and were swept into her inner circle. Weidman graduated from UCLA in 1951, and later earned a master’s degree in philosophy from New York University, where she studied under Sidney Hook. When she and Nathaniel Branden married in 1953, Rand and her husband, Frank O’Connor, served as the matron of honor and best man. The next year her husband began a romantic affair with Rand (who was twenty-four years his senior) with the reluctant permission of both spouses and in accordance with the principles of Objectivism; Rand’s husband would vacate their house twice a week to allow for their trysts. This relationship continued for three years. While their respective spouses had knowledge of the affair and nominally accepted it, Branden later said it led to “years of pain” and “enormous harm”, describing it as a “sacrifice”. In 1958 the Brandens formed the Nathaniel Branden Institute to promote Rand’s ideas through lectures and books. She and her husband co-wrote Who is Ayn Rand? in 1962, and her essay in the book was the first biography of Rand. When it was written, Rand considered Branden to be one of the most important proponents of Objectivism. In 1968, when Rand terminated her association with Nathaniel Branden after she discovered that he had become involved with actress Patrecia Scott more than four years earlier, she likewise disassociated herself from Barbara Branden for keeping this fact from her. The details of these events remain controversial, and Branden divorced her husband that same year. In 1986 she published another biography of Rand, The Passion of Ayn Rand. The book was made into an Emmy-award winning motion picture in 1999 starring Helen Mirren as Rand, Eric Stoltz as Nathaniel Branden and Julie Delpy playing Barbara Braden. She contributed the lead essay “Ayn Rand: The Reluctant Feminist” to the anthology Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, wherein she argued that the way Rand lived her life made it a feminist manifesto, even as Rand had disagreements with feminism. Branden was estranged from her cousin Leonard Peikoff, Rand’s chosen intellectual and legal heir after Rand’s break with Nathaniel Branden. She served as the Executive Director of the Nathaniel Branden Institute, and gave a series of lectures on “Principles of Efficient Thinking” in 2007 (died 2013): “There is never any valid reason for not being in full mental focus.”

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