Daily Update: Thursday, December 31st, 2015

Sylvester I and Seventh Day of Christmas and 12-31 - New Years Eve

Today is the Seventh Day of the Octave of Christmas (Alleluia!) Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Sylvester I, Pope (died 335). Today is the Seventh Day of Christmas (our last day with birds as a gift), and today New Year’s Eve, the last day of the calendar year.

The son of a Roman named Rufinus, Saint Sylvester was the reigning Pope in the reign of Emperor Constantine I. During his pontificate were built the great churches founded at Rome by Constantine, e.g. the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, the first St. Peter’s Basilica, and several cemeterial churches over the graves of martyrs. Sylvester did not himself attend the First Council of Nicaea in 325, but he was represented by two legates, Vitus and Vincentius, and he approved the council’s decision. At an early stage copious legend supplemented his scanty history, bringing him into a close leadership relationship with the first Christian emperor. The Donation of Constantine (Latin: Donatio Constantini) is a forged Roman imperial decree by which the emperor Constantine the Great supposedly transferred authority over Rome and the western part of the Roman Empire to the Pope. Composed probably in the 8th century, it was used, especially in the 13th century, in support of claims of political authority by the papacy. It was widely accepted as authentic, even by those who deplored the primacy of Rome; the poet Dante Alighieri lamented it as the root of papal worldliness in his Divine Comedy. It was not until the mid 15th-century, with the revival of Classical scholarship and textual criticism, that humanists, historians, and eventually the bureaucracy of the Church, began to realize that the document could not possibly be genuine, and Pope St. Sylvester I went back into the shadows of unrecorded history. He is the Patron Saint of the Order of Sylvestrine Benedictines and of the town of Feroleto Antico in Italy. Today is also the Seventh Day of Christmas, with the gift that my true love gave to me being seven swans a-swimming. In England there is a popular belief that all swans are the property of the reigning Monarch, in accordance with the Act of Swans passed by the English Parliament in 1482. In fact the right to ownership of swans was restricted by that Act to landowners who had freehold valued at 5 marks (£3-13-4) and who thus had the right to mark swans on their land. Unrestricted and unmarked Mute Swans on open water were preserved to the King. Today, the Crown retains the right to ownership of all unmarked Mute swans in open water, but the Queen only exercises her ownership on certain stretches of the River Thames and some of its tributaries between Windsor and Abingdon, and the extremely elaborate ceremonial Swan Upping takes place during the third week of July. And today is is New Year’s Eve, celebrating the end of the calendar year. At the casino this year they will have at midnight a few hundred pounds of confetti shot out of cannons up into the main dome. (We will see the results when we arrive at work on Friday morning; last year Housekeeping was told not to start sweeping up until about 5:00 am or so, which meant that in the dome area we were ankle deep in confetti.)

Last night Richard gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb.

Our brand new mattress and box springs (queen, firm, with a mattress that can be turned over when needed) sleeps very well; I did not get up until 9:30 am. At the casino it was the first of two Heavy Business Volume Days for New Years. Upon waking up I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, then read the Thursday papers. I then gathered up the cans, and put the recycling newspaper bins and all of the collected bags of cans in the back of the truck. Richard had continued sleeping when I woke up, but came out, and after some discussion we decided that he would take the newspapers and cans to the Recycling Center, and that I would go run errands in the car.

We both left the house at 11:30 am (Richard in the truck to the Recycling Center, me in my car), and my first stop was at the Hit-n-Run, where I purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for Saturday night’s drawing. I then went to Wal-Mart, where I purchased a Mardi Gras shirt, new black dress shoes for church, bread, and my salad supplies.

I arrived home at 12:30 pm (Richard was already back home), and found that one of my Christmas cards had come back (the one to my Internet friend Melissa in Pennsylvania). I ate my lunch salad in front of the computer, and did my Internet Devotional Reading and the Seventh Day of my Epiphany Novena. I then posted my 2016 Resolutions to a page that one can get to via the sidebar on my Weblog (over on the right, near the top). I then ironed my casino pants, apron, and shirts, made my lunch salads for tomorrow and Sunday, and did my envelopes for Church. I then changed my clothes into my Church clothes. (For those who are wondering, I normally wear jeans and a T-shirt of varying tastefulness, and my hat; in cold weather I add a sweater or hoodie to that ensemble. For Church, it’s black dress shoes, hose, a dress, and no hat.)

Next, I headed to church for the 4:00 pm Anticipated Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. When I got home Richard had gone to bed; I made myself some grilled cheese sandwiches, which I am now eating while doing today’s Daily Update, and when I finish with the computer I will join Richard in bed. Our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing a home game with the Los Angeles Clippers tonight; I will post the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Eighth Day in the Octave of Christmas (Alleluia!) It is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, a Holy Day of Obligation for the faithful. Tomorrow is also the World Day of Peace, and tomorrow is the First Friday of the month, dedicated to devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the secular realm, tomorrow is the Eighth Day of Christmas, our first day where the gift from one’s true love is not birds. Finally, tomorrow is New Year’s Day, and is also a Federal Holiday (so no mail). Before work I will put out the flag and the new 2016 Calendars. Richard and I will head for the casino to begin our usual Friday-to-Tuesday work schedule; it will be a Heavy Business Volume Day for New Years (the second of two), and a Paid Holiday (which means we get holiday pay of time and a half for our hours worked tomorrow). In the afternoon I will head over to the Chapel for my First Friday devotions. And the Last Quarter Moon will arrive at 11:32 pm, by which time I will not only be asleep, but I will be about twenty minutes from my alarm going on for the first time.

Our last Daily Update of the year on this Seventh Day of the Octave of Christmas (Alleluia!) brings us a Parting Quote from Norm Phelps, American author and activist. Born as Norman Phelps in 1939, he was raised in a devout Southern Baptist family, and in 1962 received his bachelor of arts degrees in History and Philosophy at the University of Maryland, College Park. In 1984 he became a vegetarian and then a vegan after the death of his dog; that same year he retired from the federal government and joined the campaigns office of The Fund for Animals in Silver Spring, Maryland, where he became active in the campaign to end the live pigeon shoot which was then held every Labor Day in the village of Hegins, Pennsylvania. In 1994 he was arrested at a pigeon shoot in Pikeville, Pennsylvania for releasing 200 pigeons who were slated to become living targets. He spent two days in Berks County Prison and was subsequently convicted of malicious mischief. (The shoot ended in 1998.) In 1985 he took vows and became a Tibetan Buddhist in the Sakya tradition. When The Fund for Animals merged with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Phelps joined the staff of the HSUS wildlife protection campaign. He was a founding member of the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV), and a former outreach director of the Fund for Animals. As an animal rights theorist, Phelps argues that the animal rights movement must: 1) Engage religious communities on the side of animal rights, 2) Join with progressive movements for social and economic justice and environmental protection to create a genuine universal rights movement, and 3) pursue a “two-track” strategy of advocating veganism and the abolition of all animal exploitation while simultaneously campaigning for more moderate reforms, such as Meatless Mondays and the abolition of battery cages for laying hens. Although he was generally opposed to militant direct action on the grounds that it is counterproductive, Phelps supported live rescues of animals from farms and laboratories. He authored three books on animal rights: The Dominion of Love: Animal Rights According to the Bible (2002), The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights (2004), and The Longest Struggle: Animal Advocacy from Pythagoras to PETA (2007). Phelps spoke at numerous conferences, including the National Conference on Organized Resistance, the University of Oregon’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, several of the annual Animal Rights Conferences sponsored by the Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM), and the Compassionate Living Festival. He also published articles, essays, and book reviews in several periodicals, such as the Journal of Critical Animal Studies, Philosophia, Satya, The Animals’ Voice, and VegNews (died 2014): “Czar [my dog] was a person. He had a personality as individual and well-defined as any human being. He could love, he could trust, he could share, he could enjoy, he could fear, he could worry, he could look forward to the future and remember the past, he had a sense of who he was, and he would have sacrificed himself for me without a moment’s hesitation. . . . If Czar was a person, what about other animals? What about cows, pigs, chickens and sheep? Weren’t they people, too? How could we love some and eat others?”

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