Today is the Feast of Purim (which began yesterday at sunset, like all Jewish holidays). Today is Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday. And today is the Optional Memorial of Blessed Óscar Romero, Bishop (died 1980).
The Book of Esther in the Bible tells the story of how the Jews were saved from the machinations of the evil Haman by the initiative of Esther, the cousin of Mordecai (she had hidden her Jewish identity on the advice of her cousin when she became the Queen of King Ahasuerus of Persia). God is not mentioned at all in the Book of Esther (the Catholic version has extra material, originally written in Greek in the Septuagint, which mentions God extensively), so a tradition has risen of masquerading on Purim, to signify that God is ‘hidden’ behind all of the events in the story. During Purim it is traditional to serve triangular pastries called Hamantaschen (“Haman’s pockets” in Yiddish and Oznei Haman (“Haman’s ears”) in modern Hebrew, kreplach (a kind of dumpling filled with cooked meat, chicken or liver and served in soup), and seeds and nuts (as the Talmud tells us that Queen Esther ate only these foodstuffs in the palace of Ahasuerus, since she had no access to kosher foods). As Jewish holidays go, this is one of the most fun ones, as it celebrates the triumph of the Jews over the enemies, an event that has not happened that often in their history. On Holy Thursday morning all of the priests and deacons gather in the Cathedral of their diocese for the Chrism Mass with their Bishop. The Chrism Oil (used in the Catholic sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and Holy Orders), the Oil of the Catechumens (used in the Sacrament of baptism), and the Oil of the Sick (used in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick) for the whole diocese are blessed by the bishop, then all the priests renew their vows. After Mass the oils are distributed to each parish’s representatives (i.e., the priests and deacons of a parish). In the evening in each parish is held the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which initiates the Easter Triduum, the three days of Friday, Saturday and Sunday that commemorate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. The blessed chrism and oils are brought in procession to their proper place in the church, and after the homily the Washing of Feet takes place. This action gives the day its other name of Maundy Thursday, from the Latin phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos,” “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another,” the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John (13:34) by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet. The service concludes with a procession taking the Blessed Sacrament to the place of reposition, with a period of Eucharistic Adoration at the place of reposition; the altar in the church is then stripped of all coverings. Technically, Lent ends with the start of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, but all my life I have continued my Lenten penance until I go to Mass for Easter, and I see no reason to stop doing so at this point in my life. (I can wait a few more days for chocolate.) Today’s Blessed was born as Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez in 1917 in Ciudad Barrios, El Salvador; he entered public school, which only offered grades one through three, then was privately tutored until age twelve or thirteen. Throughout this time he also was a carpentry apprentice to his father. In 1942 Romero was ordained a Catholic priest in Rome, and remained in Italy to obtain a doctoral degree in theology which specialized in ascetical theology. The next year, without finishing his degree, he was summoned back home from Fascist Italy by his bishop at age 27. Romero began working as a parish priest in Anamorós but then moved to San Miguel where he worked for over 20 years. He promoted various apostolic groups, started an Alcoholics Anonymous group, helped in the construction of San Miguel’s cathedral, and supported devotion to the Virgin of the Peace. He was later appointed Rector of the inter-diocese seminary in San Salvador. In 1966 he began his public life when chosen to be the Secretary of the Episcopal Conference for El Salvador. He also became the director of the archdiocesan newspaper Orientación, which became fairly conservative while he was editor, defending the traditional magisterium of the Catholic Church. In 1970 he was appointed auxiliary bishop to San Salvador Archbishop Luis Chávez, a move not welcomed by the more progressive members of the Priesthood in El Salvador. He took up his appointment as Bishop of the Diocese of Santiago de María in December 1975. On February 23rd, 1977, he was appointed Archbishop of San Salvador. His appointment was met with surprise, dismay, and even incredulity; while this appointment was welcomed by the government, many priests were disappointed, especially those openly aligning with Marxism. The Marxist priests feared that his conservative reputation would negatively affect liberation theology’s commitment to the poor. Less than a month later, on March 12th, progressive Jesuit priest Rutilio Grande, who had been creating self-reliance groups among the poor campesinos, was assassinated. His death had a profound impact on Romero, who was a close personal friend to Grande; he urged Arturo Armando Molina’s government to investigate, but his request was ignored, and the censored press said nothing. In response to Fr. Rutilio’s murder, the Archbishop revealed a radicalism that had not been evident earlier, and spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture. As a result he began to be noticed internationally. In 1979 the Revolutionary Government Junta came to power amidst a wave of human rights abuses by paramilitary right-wing groups and the government. Romero criticized the United States for giving military aid to the new government. In February 1980 he was given an honorary doctorate by the Catholic University of Leuven. On his visit to Europe to receive this honor he met Pope John Paul II and expressed his concerns at what was happening in his country. He argued that it was problematic to support the Salvadoran government because it legitimized terror and assassinations. Romero was shot by an M-16 assault rifle wielded by assassins believed to be members of a death squad on March 24th, 1980, while celebrating Mass at a small chapel located in a hospital called “La Divina Providencia”, one day after a sermon where he had called on Salvadoran soldiers, as Christians, to obey God’s higher order and to stop carrying out the government’s repression and violations of basic human rights. According to an audio-recording of the Mass, he was shot by while elevating the chalice at the end of the Eucharistic rite. When he was shot, his blood spilled over the altar. The funeral mass on March 30th, 1980 in San Salvador was attended by more than 250,000 mourners from all over the world. Romero’s death proved to be a turning point in the history of the Salvadoran conflict, a peak in the power of popular organizations aligned with the left, whose popularity declined after this event under the suspicion that they attempted to capitalize on this tragic event for political gain. Romero was given the title of Servant of God in 1997, and after many years of delays, he was declared a Martyr and a Venerable in February 2015, and beatified in May 2015; if you know of any miracles that can be attributed to his intercession, please contact the Vatican.
Last night Richard gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb.
I did have my alarm set for 6:00 am, so that I could wake up and go to Lafayette for the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral at 10:30 am, but I did not sleep well, and opted to not go. When I woke up at 8:30 am there was a thunderstorm going on outside. I did my Book Devotional Reading, then read the Thursday papers. I then did my Internet Devotional Reading, finished my laundry, and gathered up our aluminum cans and threw the bag of cans in the garage. Richard then opted to take a nap, and I ironed my Casino pants, apron, and shirts, cleaned out my Barnes and Noble book bag, and cleaned out my purse.
Leaving the house at 12:30 pm, 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 ate lunch at D.C.’s Sports Bar and Steakhouse, and continued reading Julian’s Gospel: Illuminating the Life & Revelations of Julian of Norwich by Veronica Mary Rolf. I got my salad supplies at Wal-Mart, and also some chocolate for me to eat on Saturday after the Easter Vigil.
When I got home at 2:00 pm, Richard had just wakened up. I updated today’s Daily Update on the computer, then made my lunch salads for Saturday and Sunday. I then put up the palms from Palm Sunday behind the crosses in the house (one in each room). At 4:30 pm we watched Jeopardy! And I am now finishing up today’s Daily Update; at about 5:45 pm I will head to my Church for the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which ushers in the Easter Triduum, the three holiest days of the year (inclusive). When I get home I will go straight to bed. Our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing an away Pro Basketball game with the Indiana Pacers tonight, and our #10 ranked LSU Tigers will play the first game of their three-game away series with #2 ranked Texas A&M tonight; I will record the score of these games in my Friday Daily Update.
Tomorrow is Good Friday, a day of Fast and Abstinence for the Catholic faithful. Tomorrow would be the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, but that has been postponed until the Monday after Easter Week, and tomorrow is also the Anniversary of the Destruction of the One Ring in Mount Doom (T.A. 3019), as told in The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. Richard and I will return to the Casino for the start of our work week; tomorrow is both a Paid Holiday (we get paid time and a half for our hours worked) and a Heavy Business Volume Day. On our way home from work I will continue reading magazines. At 3:00 pm I will be at the Church for the Good Friday liturgy; when I get home, Richard and I will go eat crawfish for our dinner. And tomorrow evening our #10 ranked LSU Tigers will play the second game of their three-game away series with #2 ranked Texas A&M; I will record the score of the game in my Saturday Daily Update.
Our Holy Thursday Afternoon Parting Quote comes to us from Jim Marshall, American photographer. Born in 1936 in Chicago, Illinois, while still in high school he purchased his first camera and began documenting musicians and artists in the San Francisco area. After serving several years in the Air Force, he returned and moved to New York. In the early 1960′s he photographed Bob Dylan in Greenwich Village. He famously photographed Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967; at the time he was dating Folgers coffee heiress Abigail Folger, who had accompanied him to the festival. (She died two years later at the hands of the Manson Family.) Marshall had extended access to numerous musicians through the 1960s and 1970s, including being the only photographer allowed backstage at the Beatles’ last concert in San Francisco in 1966, acting as chief photographer at Woodstock in 1969, and photographing Johnny Cash at San Quentin in 1969.. He had a forceful personality and was known to carry at least one Leica camera with him at all times. He photographed such artists as Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, and the Allman Brothers. In 1997 he published Not Fade Away: The Rock and Roll Photography of Jim Marshall. A new book of photographs by Marshall and Timothy White, Match Prints, was released early in March of 2010, and a book party had been scheduled in New York City; however, he died in his hotel room before the party (died 2010): ”I have no kids, My photographs are my children.”