Daily Update: Sunday, January 24th, 2016

Francis de Sales and Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2016

Today is the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, and the Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor (died 1622). Also, today is the Seventh Day of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, with the overall theme for 2016 being Called to Proclaim the Mighty Acts of the Lord (cf. 1 Peter 2:9); for today, we meditate on “Hospitality for Prayer”.

Born in 1567 at Château de Thorens, Savoy (part of modern France) to a well-placed Savoyard family, the parents of today’s Saint intended that Francis become a lawyer, enter politics, and carry on the family line and power. He studied at La Roche and Annecy in France, was taught by Jesuits, and attended the Collège de Clermont in Paris, France at age 12. In his early teens, Francis began to believe in pre-destination, and was so afraid that he was peremptorily condemned to Hell that he became ill and eventually was confined to bed. However, in January 1587 at the Church of Saint Stephen, he overcame the crisis, decided that whatever God had in store for him was for the best, and dedicated his life to God. He then studied law and theology at the University of Padua, Italy, and earned a doctorate in both fields. He returned home and found a political position as Senate advocate. It was at this point that he received a message telling him to “Leave all and follow Me.” He took this as a call to the priesthood, a move his family fiercely opposed, especially when he refused a marriage that had been arranged for him. However, he pursued a devoted prayer life, and his gentle ways won over the family. Becoming a priest, in 1593 he was appointed provost of the diocese of Geneva, Switzerland, a stronghold of Calvinists. His simple, clear explanations of Catholic doctrine, and his gentle way with everyone, brought many back to the Roman Church. He even used sign language in order to bring the message to the deaf. Becoming Bishop of Geneva in 1602, he traveled and evangelized throughout the Duchy of Savoy, working with children whenever he could, and was the friend of Saint Vincent de Paul. He turned down a wealthy French bishopric to continue working where God had placed him, and with Saint Jeanne de Chantal he helped found the Order of the Visitation. A prolific correspondent, many of his letters have survived; he is also the author of Introduction to the Devout Life (still in print), addressed to Christians in all walks of life, not just to those in a professional religious vocation. Besides being the Patron Saint of the deaf, he is also the Patron Saint of confessors, educators, writers, the Catholic Press, and journalists, and of the cities of Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbus, Ohio, and Wilmington, Delaware. Today is the Seventh Day of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, with the overall theme for 2016 being Called to Proclaim the Mighty Acts of the Lord (cf. 1 Peter 2:9); for today, we meditate on “Hospitality for Prayer”, and we pray, “Lord Jesus, you asked your apostles to stay awake with you and to pray with you. May we offer the world protected times and spaces in which to find refreshment and peace, so that praying together with other Christians we may come to know you more deeply. Amen.”

Last night our New Orleans Pelicans beat the Milwaukee Bucks in a home game by the score of 116 to 99. And the Full Moon arrived at 7:46 pm.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and did my Internet Devotional Reading on our way to work. Once we clocked in, Richard was on the Sit-Down Blackjack table, closed that table, changed Blackjack cards, then was on the $5.00 Blackjack table. I was on Three Card Blackjack until half-way through our shift, closed that table, then I was the Relief Dealer for two Blackjack tables and the $5.00 Blackjack table. My friend Deborah fixed my Mardi Gras bracelet so that the safety pins would not open under minimal stress. On my breaks I continued reading Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist by William R. Maples. And Richard talked to our Shift Manager, who will fix the schedule so that Richard will not be scheduled to work on February 2nd, the day he has Jury Duty.

I continued reading my book on our way home, and Richard stopped at Wal-Mart to get my interim salad supplies. I read the Sunday papers and ate my lunch salad, then took a nap for the rest of the day. Our LSU Women’s Basketball team beat Georgia in an away game by the score of 53 to 46; our Lady Tigers will next play an away game with #23 ranked Missouri on January 28th. I did not do my Daily Update, and Richard gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin to the curb.

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Conversion of Paul, Apostle. Also, tomorrow is the Eighth and Last Day of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, when we will meditate on “Hearts Burning for Unity”. We will go to work for the first day of the new two-week pay period. On my breaks I will do my Daily Update for yesterday, Sunday, January 24th, 2016 via WordPress for Android, and continue reading Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist by William R. Maples. After work we will go to the Clinic, as Richard has an appointment to learn how to inject himself with a new medication. Once home, I will make my lunch salads for Monday and Tuesday, eat a salad while reading the morning paper, then prepare Liz Ellen’s monthly package and go out to mail it at the post office. Our New Orleans Pelicans will play a home game with the Houston Rockets, and I will post the score of the game in Tuesday’s Daily Update.

Our Sunday Afternoon Parting Quote comes from Toller Cranston, Canadian figure skater and painter. Born in 1949 in Hamilton, Ontario, and grew up in Kirkland Lake. After an initial failed experience with ballet lessons, Cranston started skating at the age of 7, when his parents bought him hockey skates. He experimented on his own with trying to dance on the ice, and was only later told that what he was doing was called “figure skating”. His mother was reluctant to allow him to pursue the sport seriously, but at the age of 11, when his family moved to suburban Montreal, he met Eva Vasak, who was impressed by his talent and offered to coach him for free. When Cranston was 13, he developed Osgood–Schlatter disease and was initially told that he would never skate again. After eight weeks in a cast, he resumed training, and won the 1964 Canadian Junior Championship the next month. In the next few years, however, Cranston met with little success at the senior level. After high school, Cranston attended the École des beaux-arts de Montréal. By his third year, he became restless with his studies. One of his teachers suggested that there was nothing more he could learn at the school, so Cranston set out at that point to establish himself as a professional artist. As he was dividing his attention with art school at this time, his physical conditioning was poor and he struggled to make it through his skating programs, which at that time were five minutes for senior men. After failing to make the Canadian team for the 1968 Winter Olympics, Cranston struggled with motivation and lack of training discipline. His career turned a corner in the following season when he began to work with coach Ellen Burka in Toronto. Burka required him to do complete run-throughs of his entire program and his results began to improve: third at the Canadian championships in 1969, and second in 1970. After leaving the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Cranston became self-supporting as an artist, making enough money to cover his skating expenses. He held his first exhibition at his coach’s home in the spring of 1969. In November 1971, he had another successful one-man show in Toronto, the result of almost a year’s work. Thereafter, he continued to have gallery and museum displays, with over 250 exhibitions around the world. Cranston was a clockwise spinner and jumper. He quickly gained a reputation as the most innovative and exciting artistic skater of his time, one of the first to emphasize use of the whole body to express the music as well as to execute skating moves in best form, to lie down while sliding down the ice and to wear elaborate costumes. He was particularly known for the quality and inventiveness of his spins, which were widely copied by other skaters. The quality of his precision landings and inventive choreography was topped by his combination jumps that included triple revolution jumps. Soon reports from competitions of this period began to mention younger skaters who had become “Tollerized” by attempting to copy Cranston’s style, which was characterized by contrasting very stretched positions with a high free leg with more angular, bent-leg positions, and the incorporation of elements such as running toe steps and high kicks in step sequences. Many of his original spins included many changes of positions that seemed to defy gravity. His Russian split jump was “over split” which brought his skates up to shoulder height instead of waist height. Even during his competitive career, Cranston had talked about his goal in skating being to create what he called “Theatre on ice”, or skating as a form of dance expression, rather than winning medals. He explained that the purpose of perfecting the technical aspects of the sport was to allow the body to express the music or emotion. Cranston won his first national title in 1971 with a performance that included triple Salchow and loop jumps, and received a standing ovation from the audience. It was in the 1972 season that he truly established his reputation in the sport. At the 1972 Canadian championships, his marks included four 6.0s for artistic impression and six 5.9s for technical merit. At this time the Artistic Impression mark was supposed to be graded on the quality of the jumps, landings and spins and the choreography to the music. Cranston skated poor compulsory figures  at the 1972 Winter Olympics, but turned in a strong program to finish 5th in the free skating. At the 1972 World Figure Skating Championships, he won the free skating medal with another superb performance, again landing triple loop and Salchow jumps and receiving a thunderous standing ovation as well as a perfect 6.0 mark for artistic impression. He won that same medal again at the 1974 World Figure Skating Championships in addition to winning the overall bronze medal. Cranston also was the 1976 Olympic bronze medalist, again winning the free-skate medal. That same year he teamed up with personal manager Elva Oglanby to write his first book, Toller, a mixture of autobiography, sketches, poems, paintings, humour and tongue-in-cheek observations. It reached number two in the Canadian non-fiction charts. After the 1976 competitive season, Cranston began a long career in professional figure skating. Following up on his earlier-stated goal of developing “theatre on ice”, Cranston performed in his own tour, The Ice Show, also featuring Gordon McKellen, Colleen O’Connor and James Millns, and several other former elite competitors. He later toured in Europe with Holiday on Ice, and in 1983 appeared in a short-lived production at Radio City Music Hall in New York City with Peggy Fleming and Robin Cousins. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Cranston made a series of skating specials for CBC television. The best of these was Strawberry Ice (1982), a fantasy that also featured Peggy Fleming, Sandra and Val Bezic, Allen Schramm, and Sarah Kawahara, with imaginative costumes designed by Frances Dafoe. The production won a variety of awards, including an ACTRA Award and was redistributed in 67 countries. Cranston’s other TV specials included Dream Weaver (1979) and Magic Planet (1983). During this period Cranston was a regular on the Canadian variety TV show Stars on Ice, and appeared in the similar NBC series The Big Show in 1980. His other television credits included a cameo appearance in an ice ballet production of The Snow Queen (1982), starring John Curry and Janet Lynn. In 1983 he portrayed the character of Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet on Ice, a production starring Brian Pockar and Dorothy Hamill as the title characters. He appeared on the back cover of Joni Mitchell’s 1976 album Hejira, and appeared in her 1980 concert film Shadows and Light. He made a non-skating acting appearance in the 1983 short film I Am a Hotel, a music video featuring songs by Leonard Cohen. Throughout the 1980s, he was a regular competitor at the World Professional Figure Skating Championships and other made-for-TV pro skating events. In 1986, he was one of the cast members of the original IMG-produced American Stars on Ice tour (no relation to the earlier Canadian TV series of the same name), and appeared with the show for the next several years. Cranston was also a commentator on CBC television for figure skating events. However, in 1991, the CBC fired him, citing concerns from the Canadian Figure Skating Association that his often brutally frank and opinionated commentary was denigrating to Canadian skaters. Cranston filed a lawsuit against the CBC that was eventually resolved in his favour. In the summer of 1990, Cranston agreed to coach American skater Christopher Bowman, who moved into Cranston’s home in Toronto. The influence of the notoriously unstable Bowman on Cranston’s life was disastrous; Cranston later wrote, “… drug dealers buzzed the front doorbell morning, noon, and night. Prostitutes invaded my house from the street. Christopher sometimes announced that he was going out for a carton of milk and didn’t return for three days.” Having lost the ability to tolerate Bowman’s behavior any longer Cranston finally threw him out in the fall of 1991. Meanwhile, Cranston had become so depressed that he was unable to paint, and started taking drugs as well. At this time, he began to make changes in his lifestyle: He sold his Toronto house, which was cluttered with art he had collected over the years, and bought a house in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Cranston continued to perform in Canada with Stars on Ice and IMG’s smaller-city tour, Skate the Nation, for the next few years. However, in the fall of 1994, he broke his leg while practicing for a holiday show in Vail, Colorado. Although he made a few skating appearances afterwards, in 1997 he decided to retire from professional skating before (as he described it) he became a parody of himself. Cranston was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1976, the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1997, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1997, and Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2003. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1977 and received a Special Olympic Order from the Canadian Olympic Association in 1995. Cranston co-wrote the autobiographical Zero Tollerance (1997) with Martha Lowder Kimball, and a second volume, When Hell Freezes Over: Should I Bring My Skates? (2000), also with Kimball. He was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2004. When his death was announced, Skate Canada paid tribute to him with a moment of silence at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Kingston, Ontario, which was being held around the time of his death (died 2015): “Mistakes are never mistakes if you can come out okay at the end.”

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