Today is the Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor (died 1591), and the Remembrance of Servant of God Catherine Doherty (died 1985). Today is also the birthday of Richard’s cousin Devonne, and of his niece Laurie, daughter of his sister Bonnie in Texas (1966).
The future Saint John of the Cross was born as Juan de Yepes Alvarez in poverty in 1542 at Fontiveros, Spain, cared for the poor in the hospital in Medina del Campo, Spain, and became a Carmelite lay brother in 1563 at age 21, though he lived more strictly than the Rule required. He studied at Salamanca, Spain, and was ordained as a Carmelite priest in 1567 at age 25. He then considered joining the much more strict Carthusians, but was persuaded by Saint Teresa of Avila to begin the Discalced or barefoot reform within the Carmelite Order and took the name John of the Cross. He became master of novices, and the spiritual director and confessor at Saint Teresa’s convent. His reforms did not set well with some of his brothers, and he was ordered to return to Medina del Campo. He refused, and was imprisoned at Toledo, Spain, writing much of his great work The Spiritual Canticle while in prison, and escaping after nine months. He also authored the poem Dark Night of the Soul, the commentary on Dark Night of the Soul, and the mystical work Ascent of Mount Carmel. He became Vicar-general of Andalusia, Spain, and his reforms revitalized the Carmelite Order. A great contemplative and spiritual writer, he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI in 1926, and is the Patron Saint of mystics, contemplatives, mystical theology, the contemplative life, and Spanish poets. We also honor Servant of God Catherine Doherty (died 1985). Born as Ekaterina Fyodorovna Kolyschkine in 1896 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, her parents belonged to the minor nobility and were devout members of the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1912, aged 15, she made what turned out to be a disastrous marriage with her first cousin, Boris de Hueck (died 1947). At the outbreak of World War I, Catherine de Hueck became a Red Cross nurse at the front, experiencing the horrors of battle firsthand. On her return to St. Petersburg, she and her husband barely escaped the turmoil of the Russian Revolution with their lives, nearly starving to death as refugees in Finland. Together they made their way to England, where Catherine was received into communion with the Roman Catholic Church on November 27, 1919, becoming a Russian Greek-Catholic. Immigrating to Canada with her husband, she gave birth to their only child in Toronto in 1921. Soon she and her husband became more and more painfully estranged from one another as he pursued extramarital affairs. To make ends meet, she took various jobs and eventually became a lecturer, traveling a circuit that took her across North America. Prosperous now, but deeply dissatisfied with a life of material comfort, her marriage in ruins, she began to feel the promptings of a deeper call through a passage that leaped to her eyes every time she opened the Bible. Consulting with various priests and the bishop of the diocese, she began her lay apostolate among the poor in Toronto in the early 1930s, calling it Friendship House. Because her interracial approach was so different from what was being done at the time, she encountered much persecution and resistance, and Friendship House was forced to close in 1936. She then went to Europe and spent a year investigating Catholic Action. On her return, she was given the chance to revive Friendship House in New York City among the poor in Harlem. In time, more than a dozen Friendship Houses would be founded in North America. In 1943, having received an annulment of her first marriage (as she had married her cousin, which is forbidden in the Church), she married Eddie Doherty, one of America’s foremost reporters, who had fallen in love with her while writing a story about her apostolate. Serious disagreements arose between the staff of Friendship House and its foundress, particularly surrounding her marriage. When these could not be resolved, the couple moved to Combermere, Ontario, on May 17, 1947, naming their new rural apostolate Madonna House. This was to be the seedbed of an apostolate that, by the year 2000, numbered more than 200 staff workers and over 125 associate priests, deacons, and bishops, with 22 missionary field-houses throughout the world. Doherty is perhaps best known for having introduced the concept of poustinia to Roman Catholicism through her best-selling book, Poustinia, first published in 1975. A poustinia is a small, sparsely furnished cabin or room where one goes to pray and fast alone in the presence of God for 24 hours. Her cause for canonization was opened in 2000; at the current stage in the process, a diocesan tribunal, as well as a historical commission, are examining Doherty’s life and writings under the supervision of the bishop of the Diocese of Pembroke. Her file in the Vatican is titled (in English) “Pembroke: Cause of the Beatification and Canonization of Servant of God Catherine de Hueck Doherty, lay faithful and foundress of the Apostolate called ‘Madonna House‘”; if you know of any miracles that can be attributed to her intercession, please contact the Vatican. Today is also the birthday of Richard’s cousin Devonne, and of his niece Laurie, daughter of his sister Bonnie in Texas (1966).
I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, then I gathered up the trash and Richard wheeled the trash bin out to the curb. On our way to work Richard and I saw meteors, and I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Once we clocked in at the casino, Richard was on Pai Gow and I was on Macau Mini Baccarat until it was closed. They then sent me to a blackjack table (where I was for the rest of the day). I had worked 20 minutes while still on the Macau Mini Baccarat table after I had gotten back from my break at 5:20 am, and when no one came to break me after I had been on the table for an hour I assumed that the dealer I had taken out had just come back from break when I took her out, and that I would work an hour and twenty. My table was the only table facing south in the pit; the other four tables (Roulette, another Blackjack table, and two Pitch Blackjack tables) were facing west. When 6:35 am came around and no one came to break me, I asked the Floor Person who my breaker was, and very shortly a dealer came to break me. I found out that originally my table was being broken by the relief dealer from our high stakes area, on an hour string, but that they had been told not to break my table any more. There were two relief dealers in the Blackjack / Roulette pit, each of them breaking two tables, but the dealer who was supposed to be told to start breaking me was never told to do so because of a miscommunication, and I had not realized that there were two relief dealers behind me, each breaking two tables, because my back was to the other tables, and I was busy dealing to blackjack players who were brand spanking new. The Pit Boss was quite apologetic to me, that I had been forgotten, and assured me that I would get another break in forty minutes, which I did. (This is why I always take a bathroom break right before I go back out on the casino floor; one never knows when something might happen, and one might not get another bathroom break for an hour and twenty minutes.)
On our way home I finished reading the November 2015 issue of National Geographic, so that I am almost caught up with my magazine reading. Once home I made my lunch salads for today and tomorrow, and ate today’s salad while reading the morning paper. (With our New Orleans Saints being 5 and 8, they still have a chance of making the postseason playoffs, but only a chance, as explained by Saints in playoffs? So you’re saying there’s a chance …. from Nola.com.) Our mail brought us a Christmas Card from Richard’s sister Bonnie in Texas and the bank statement. After lunch Richard and I decorated the tree, and I put out Christmas decorations. We then watched CSI: Cyber “iWitness” via CBS On Demand. I then came to the computer and reconciled our bank statement to the checkbook and my Balance My Checkbook app, then started on today’s Daily Update. At 4:30 pm we watched Jeopardy!, and Richard went to Crispy Cajun to get us chicken and fixings for dinner. We then lit the Advent Candles, and I came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update. And once I finish this Daily Update I will go to bed. Tonight our New Orleans Pelicans will play the Portland Trail Blazers; I will report the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update.
Tomorrow is a day without Saints (in fact, we have the Fourth Sunday of Advent on December 29th, but no Saints until December 21st), but tomorrow is Bill of Rights Day, celebrating the ratification of the first ten Amendments to the United States Constitution in 1791. And tomorrow is the birthday of Jeanne, the granddaughter of Richard’s brother Slug here in town (1993). Richard and I will go to the casino separately (him in the truck, and me in the car), because he is going to sign the Early Out list, and I am not. (I will sign it on next Tuesday, when Liz Ellen is here.) After lunch tomorrow I can take a nap with a clear conscience, as I now have the Christmas decorating done. (I have boxes of stuff from my mom’s house that I never put up; Mom was quite positively demented about Christmas, and had everything in the house decorated, including the dog and the cat. However, if Liz Ellen arrives and asks, “Why isn’t _____ out?”, I can retrieve whatever it is from one of the boxes.)
Our Parting Quote on this Monday afternoon comes to us from Trevanian, American film scholar and writer. Born as Rodney Whitaker in 1931 in Granville, New York, he became enthralled with stories as a boy. His family struggled with poverty, and he lived for several years in Albany, New York. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Washington. While there he wrote and directed his three-act play Eve of the Bursting (1959) and went on to earn a doctorate in communications and film at Northwestern University. He taught at Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, where he was chairman of the communications division, and served in the US Navy during the Korean War. Later he was awarded a Fulbright scholarship for study in England. In 1970 he wrote a nonfiction work, The Language of Film. While chairman of the Department of Radio, TV and Film at the University of Texas, Austin, his wife suggested the pen name of Trevanian for his fiction based on her appreciation of English historian G.M. Trevelyan. His first novel, published at the age of forty, was The Eiger Sanction (1972), an intelligent, gritty and thrilling spy spoof that became a worldwide best seller. Saddened that some critics did not ‘get’ the spoof, Whitaker followed it with an even more intense spoof, The Loo Sanction (1973), which depicted an ingenious art theft (which was reportedly copied by thieves in Turin). In 1975 The Eiger Sanction was adapted as a movie directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. Trevanian requested (and received) a screenwriting credit as Rod Whitaker. The balance of the script was written by Warren Murphy, the mystery writer perhaps best known for co-writing the Destroyer series of men’s action novels. In 1976 came The Main, a roman policier set in a poor neighborhood of Montreal with Claude LaPointe, a police lieutenant in his mid-50s whose wife had died young, as the lead character. Next came Shibumi in 1979, Trevanian’s meta-spy novel, which received the most critical acclaim. Trevanian kept his true identity unknown for years. He refused to grant interviews or contribute to the publicity efforts of his publishers. His first known interview was granted to Carol Lawson of The New York Times for a June 10, 1979 article coinciding with the release of Shibumi, and it was rumored that Trevanian was Robert Ludlum writing under a pen name. In 1983 Trevanian published The Summer of Katya, a psychological horror novel. The widely diverse books solidified the myth that “Trevanian” was a collective pen name for a group of writers working together. Under the name Nicolas Seare, Trevanian also published 1339 or So: Being an Apology for a Pedlar (1975), a witty medieval tale of love and courage; and Rude Tales and Glorious (1983), a bawdy re-telling of Arthurian tales. After a 15-year absence from domestic publishing, in 1998 Trevanian reappeared as the author of a Western novel called Incident at Twenty-Mile, and a collection of short stories titled Hot Night in the City (2000). The Crazyladies of Pearl Street (2005) depicted the coming-of-age story of Jean-Luc LaPointe, a boy surviving with his mother and sister in the slums of Albany, New York in the years preceding and during World War II. Although the book was published as fiction, commentators described it as autobiographical. In November 2005 it was selected as one of eleven Editors’ Choice books by the Historical Novel Society (died 2005): ”Irony is Fate’s most common figure of speech.”