Daily Update: Monday, December 21st, 2015

O Antiphons - December 21, Peter Canisius, and Winter Solstice

Our O Antiphon for today is ”O Oriens,” “O Morning Star.” Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor (died 1597). Today is also the date of the Winter Solstice (in my time zone), so that today is either the First Day of Winter or Midwinter.

In Latin the O Antiphon for today is “O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis,” which translates to “O Morning Star, splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” Isaiah had prophesied (Isaiah 9:2): “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.” Turning to Saint Peter Canisius, he was born in 1521 in Nijmegen, Netherlands (then part of the Holy Roman Empire, under the Habsburgs), his father was a wealthy burgomeister, and he was educated in Cologne, Germany, studying art, civil law and theology. He was an excellent student, and received a master’s degree by age 19; his closest friends at university were monks and clerics. After attending a retreat conducted by Saint Peter Faber, he joined in the Jesuits in 1543; he then taught at the University of Cologne, and helped found the first Jesuit house in the city. Ordained a priest in 1546, he became the theologian of Cardinal Otto Truchsess von Waldburg, Bishop of Augsburg, in 1547. He traveled and worked with Saint Ignatius of Loyola who was his spiritual director in Rome. He became a Doctor of Theology in 1549, and began teaching theology and preaching at Ingolstadt, Germany in 1549, becoming Rector of the university in 1550. In 1552 he began teaching theology, preaching in the Cathedral of Saint Stephen in Vienna, Austria; as the royal court confessor, he continued to worked in hospitals and prisons, and during Lent in 1553 he traveled to preach in abandoned parishes in Lower Austria. During Mass one day he received a vision of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and ever after offered his work to the Sacred Heart. He led the Counter-Reformation in Germany, Austria, Bohemia, and Switzerland, and his work led to the return of Catholicism to Germany. His catechism went through 200 editions during his life, and was translated into 12 languages; in some places catechisms were referred to as Canisi. Everywhere he worked he became a noted preacher, and often worked with children, teaching them and hearing their confessions. While in Fribourg, Switzerland, he received a message from the city’s patron saint, Nicholas of Myra, that he should stop traveling; Canisius spent the rest of his life there. He taught, preached, edited books, and worked to support the Catholic press and printers in many cities; his advice was sought by Saint Francis de Sales and by his friend Saint Charles Borromeo. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1925 by Pope Pius XI, and is the Patron Saint of the Catholic Press and of Germany.  Turning finally to astronomy, the winter solstice occurs exactly when the axial tilt of a planet’s polar hemisphere is farthest away from the star that it orbits. Earth’s maximum axial tilt to our star, the Sun, during a solstice is 23° 26′. More evidently from high latitudes, a hemisphere’s winter solstice occurs on the shortest day and longest night of the year, when the sun’s daily maximum elevation in the sky is the lowest. Since the winter solstice lasts only a moment in time, other terms are often used for the day on which it occurs, such as midwinter, the longest night, or the first day of winter. Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied from culture to culture, but most cultures have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time.

Yesterday afternoon Richard gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb. And our New Orleans Pelicans won their away game with the Denver Nuggets by the score of 130 – 125; our Pelicans will play their next game at home with the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. And the New Orleans Saints are now eliminated from the NFL Playoffs. (Drat.)

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and posted to Facebook that today was the Winter Solstice. I then sent a text to Liz Ellen (I had received a message from our massage therapist asking Liz Ellen to call her). On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading, said the Sixth Day of my Christmas Novena, and said the Fourth Day of my Holy Family Novena. Once at the casino I called the Pharmacy and renewed a prescription. When we clocked in, Richard was on Pai Gow (the table had no players from 3:00 am to about 8:30 am), and I was the Relief Dealer for Four Card Poker, Mini Baccarat, and Pai Gow; I then became the Relief Dealer for a Blackjack table, Mini Baccarat, and Pai Gow.

After work I picked up my prescription at the Pharmacy. On our way home I read the December 21st, 2015 issue of Sports Illustrated, and at Wal-Mart Richard picked up a turkey and other groceries for Christmas Dinner. Once home I read the morning paper, and Liz Ellen arrived home from Lafayette and her massage while I was reading the paper.

Liz Ellen and I left the house at about 12:30 pm; we stopped by the thrift store (not open), the rectory (not open) and the satsuma orchard a few miles outside the west end of town (not open). We then went down to Crowley, and ate a very good late lunch at Fezzo’s Seafood and Steakhouse. Next, we went east of Crowley on US-90, and found the house that sells satsumas; no one was in residence, and Liz Ellen reported only a few wizened looking satsumas in the garage. We then headed back to our town, and stopped at the rectory, where I gave a tin of hard candy suckers to Deacon, to dispose of however he pleased. (Liz Ellen was going to give the tin to her massage person, but forgot to take them down to Lafayette.) The thrift store was still closed, so we went to Cash Magic, where I lost $10.00 playing video poker.

We returned home at about 3:30 pm; Richard had already gone to bed for the duration. At 4:30 pm we watched Jeopardy!, then lit the Advent Candles, after which I came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update. Our LSU Women’s Basketball team will be playing an away game with #1 ranked Connecticut, and our New Orleans Saints will be playing a home game with the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football; I will record the scores of both games in tomorrow’s Daily Update. And as soon as I finish this Daily Update, I am going to bed. And the Winter Solstice will arrive at 10:48 pm.

Tomorrow we have no Saints; our O Antiphon is “O Rex Gentium…”, and tomorrow is the birthday of my Internet friend Rosa in Arkansas (1965). I will get up half an hour early, and leave for the casino half an hour early, to sign the Early Out list; Richard will be about half an hour behind me. If I get out early enough, I will assist Liz Ellen in her Juggling and Hooping Show, one at 9:30 am, and the other at 2:00 pm, at the two nursing homes in town. Otherwise we have nothing planned, except to be in quest of satsumas. Our LSU Men’s Basketball team will be playing a home game with American University tomorrow evening.

Our Parting Quote this Monday afternoon comes to us from Jane Bown, English photographer. Born in 1925 in Eastnor, Herefordshire, she was raised by her aunts; at the age of twelve she found out that one of her “aunts” was her mother, and that her birth was illegitimate; her relationship with her mother deteriorated at that point. She first worked as a chart corrector with the Women’s Royal Naval Service, which included a role in plotting the D-Day invasion, and this employment entitled her to an education grant. She then studied photography at Guildford College under Ifor Thomas. Bown began her career as a wedding portrait photographer until 1951, when Thomas put her in touch with Mechthild Nawiasky, a picture editor at The Observer. Nawiasky showed her portfolio to editor David Astor who was impressed and immediately commissioned her to photograph the philosopher Bertrand Russell. In 1954, Bown married the fashion retail executive Martin Moss. Bown worked primarily in black-and-white and preferred to use available light. Until the early 1960s, she worked primarily with a Rolleiflex camera. Subsequently Bown used a 35mm Pentax SLR, before settling on the Olympus OM-1 camera, often using an 85mm lens. She photographed hundreds of subjects, including Orson Welles, Samuel Beckett, Sir John Betjeman, Woody Allen, Cilla Black, Quentin Crisp, P. J. Harvey, John Lennon, Truman Capote, John Peel, the gangster Charlie Richardson, Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer, Jarvis Cocker, Björk, Jayne Mansfield, Diana Dors, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eve Arnold, Evelyn Waugh, Brassai and Margaret Thatcher. She took Queen Elizabeth II’s eightieth birthday portrait. Bown’s extensive photojournalism output included series on Hop Pickers, evictions of Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, Butlin’s holiday resort, the British Seaside, and in 2002, Glastonbury festival. In 1985 she was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE), and in 1995 was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE). She was granted an Honorary Fellowship in the Royal Photographic Society in 2000.
Her social documentary and photojournalism was mostly unseen before the release of her book Unknown Bown 1947–1967 in 2007. In 2007 her work from Greenham Common was selected by Val Williams and Susan Bright as part of How We Are: Photographing Britain, the first major survey of photography to be held at Tate Britain. In 2014 directors Luke Dodd and Michael Whyte released a documentary about Bown, Looking For Light, featuring conversations with Bown about her life and interviews with those she photographed and worked with, including Edna O’Brien, Lynn Barber and Richard Ashcroft. In June 2014 she was awarded an honorary degree from the University for the Creative Arts (died 2014): “I spent my whole life worrying about time and light.”

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