Today is Good Friday, the commemoration of the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus, a day of Fast and Abstinence. Today would have been the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, except that the Solemnity has been transferred this year to the Monday after Easter Week. In the world of Middle-Earth, this is the date in 3019 (Third Age) when the One Ring perished after it went into the Cracks of Doom on Mount Doom.
The Crucifixion from the Isenheim Altarpiece, painted by Matthias Grünewald in the early 16th century, was painted for a hospital specializing in skin diseases; it is unique in having John the Baptist at the Crucifixion, as he had died sometime before the Passion of Jesus, according to the New Testament. (I always said I wanted a print of this painting to put in the baby’s room, but never got around to it, and now the babies are grown up and out of the house. Perhaps I will find an art print of this painting to send to Matthew and Callie for my granddaughter’s room.) Today is a day of both Fast and Abstinence; only one full meal in the day is permitted (one can have two smaller meals, not to equal a full meal), and no meat. The Service (no celebration of Mass is celebrated on this day) generally begins at 3:00 pm, the hour at which Christ died. The liturgy consists of three parts: the Liturgy of the Word, the Veneration of the Cross, and Holy Communion. During the Liturgy of the Word, the Passion from the Gospel of John is read, with the priest reading the words of Jesus and the congregation reading the group responses. This part concludes with a series of prayers for the Church, the Pope, the clergy and laity of the Church, those preparing for baptism, the unity of Christians, the Jewish people, those who do not believe in Christ, those who do not believe in God, those in public office, and those in special need. The second part of the Good Friday liturgy is the Veneration of the Cross: a crucifix, not necessarily the one that is normally on or near the altar at other times, is solemnly displayed to the congregation and then venerated by them, individually if possible, while special chants are sung. The Service concludes with the distribution of Holy Communion, using hosts consecrated at the evening Mass on Holy Thursday, after which the congregation leaves the church in silence. The Way of the Cross may be said during the Service, or at some other time of the day. It should be noted that the Easter Triduum Liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil are not three separate liturgies, but one single liturgy. The Holy Thursday liturgy has a Greeting, but it does not have a Concluding Rite; the Good Friday Service has neither a Greeting nor a Concluding Rite, and the Easter Vigil does not have a Greeting, but does have a Concluding Rite. In Middle-Earth, when Sauron had made the One Ring to control the rings he had made and given to elves, dwarves, and men (circa 1600, Second Age), he had transferred a great part of his native power to it, and it made its wearer invisible. The ring would also extend life indefinitely, and would eventually corrupt the wearer. When he was defeated (but not destroyed) in 3441 (Second Age), Isildur cut the ring from Sauron’s finger and took it. The Ring betrayed him at the Battle of the Gladden Fields; it slipped off of his finger on its own, and Isildur was slain. The Third Age began with the defeat of Sauron. In Third Age 2463, Déagol and Sméagol (of the ancestors of the Hobbits of the Shire) were fishing in the Gladden Fields when Déagol found the Ring. Sméagol coveted it, and when Déagol refused to give it to him as a birthday-present. Sméagol killed him. Sméagol then was banished by his family, and went to the deep caverns under the Misty Mountains in 2470. By 2941 he was wizened up, and would hold conversations with himself, using both his given name of Sméagol and his nickname of Gollum. Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit of the Shire, found the Ring under the Misty Mountains at that time, and unwisely let Gollum know his name. Bilbo carried the Ring back to the Shire, and, after many years, passed it on to his nephew Frodo Baggins in 3001. By this time Gollum had left the Misty Mountains to search for the Ring, his “Precious”. Gandalf the Grey by this time had established that the ring in Frodo’s possession was the One Ring. In 3018 Frodo left the Shire with his friends, reached Rivendell, and accepted the charge of being the one to destroy the Ring. Frodo (assisted by his loyal friend Sam) took the Ring through great peril to the Cracks of Doom in Mordor, where the Ring had been forged; however, his will failed at the last moment. Unable to resist the growing power of the Ring, he put it on his finger and claimed it for his own. Even as Sauron became aware of Frodo claiming the ring, Gollum viciously attacked Frodo and bit the Ring from his finger. Ecstatic to finally recover his long-lost “Precious”, Gollum teetered on the edge of the abyss, then lost his footing and fell with the Ring (and Frodo’s finger) into the fire. At the Ring’s destruction, Sauron’s power was immediately broken and his form in Middle-earth was destroyed. (J. R. R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic; it is hard to believe that the date when Jesus became Incarnate in the womb of Mary and the date that Evil was unmade in Middle-Earth are the same date purely through coincidence.) In 2003 Sean Kirst, of the Syracuse, New York Post-Standard newspaper, suggested to the Tolkien Society that March 25th of each year be Tolkien Reading Day, with the aim of encouraging the reading of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien and the use of Tolkien’s works in education and library groups. Since then all subsequent Tolkien Reading Days have been organized by Kirst.
Last night I attended the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at my church; the Mass started at 6:30 pm, and I got home at 8:15 pm, and promptly went to bed. Our New Orleans Pelicans lost their Pro Basketball away game with the Indiana Pacers by the score of 84 to 92, and our #10 LSU Tigers lost the first game of their three-game away series with #2 Texas A&M by the score of 1 to 6.
I did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the First Day of my Divine Mercy Novena. Today at the casino was a Heavy Business Volume Day, and it was also a Paid Holiday, so Richard and I both made time and a half for our eight hours today. Richard was on Pai Gow, and I was on Mini Baccarat all day.
On our way home from work I read the March 14th, 2016 issue of Sports Illustrated. Once home I read the morning paper, then I came to the computer to update today’s Daily Update. I left the house at 2:30 pm for the 3:00 pm Good Friday service, and arrived back home at 4:30 pm. After taking off my contacts and putting on my glasses, Richard and I went to D.C.’s Sports Bar and Steakhouse, where I had five pounds of boiled crawfish (plus potatoes and corn), and it was very good. (Wearing my glasses means that I do not have to try to get all of the seasoning out of my fingertips before doing anything with my contacts before tomorrow morning.) We got home at 5:30 pm, which brings me to now, finishing up my Daily Update for today. Our #10 LSU Tigers will be playing the second game of their three-game away series with #2 Texas A&M tonight; I will record the score of the game in Saturday’s Daily Update.
Tomorrow is Holy Saturday, the day when Christ’s body lay in the tomb while his soul went to the abode of the righteous dead to usher them to Heaven. We will be working our eight hours tomorrow (plus another fifteen minutes for the Pre-Shift Meeting), and on our way home I will continue reading magazines. Once home from work I will eat my lunch salad, then sleep until about 6:00 pm. Our #10 LSU Tigers will be playing the third game of their three-game away series with #2 Texas A&M in the afternoon. I will eat dinner and do my Daily Update, and at 7:30 pm I will leave the house to attend the Easter Vigil, which starts at 8:00 pm. When I get home from the Vigil (around 10:00 pm) I will go to bed to sleep for a few hours before I have to get up for work. Our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing a home Pro Basketball game tomorrow night with the Toronto Raptors; I will record the score of the game in my Sunday Daily Update.
Our Parting Quote on this Good Friday afternoon comes to us from Jonathan Edward Schell, American author. Born in 1943 in New York City, he graduated from Harvard University in 1965. His first book, The Village of Ben Suc, was published in 1967. From 1967 until 1987, he was a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he served as the principal writer of the magazine’s Notes and Comment section. In the early 1980s, Schell wrote a series of articles in The New Yorker (subsequently published in 1982 as The Fate of the Earth), which were instrumental in raising public awareness about the dangers of the nuclear arms race. The Fate of the Earth received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, among other awards, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Critics Award. Schell became a persistent advocate for disarmament and a world free of nuclear weapons. In 1987 he was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was a columnist for Newsday from 1990 until 1996. From 1998 to his death he was a Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute and the Peace and Disarmament Correspondent for The Nation magazine. Schell was a fellow at the Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy in 2002, and the next year, he was a visiting lecturer at Yale Law School. In 2002 and 2003, Schell was a persistent critic of the invasion of Iraq. In 2005 he became a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Yale’s Center for the Study of Globalization. His last book, The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger, was published in 2007. At the time of his death he was a Visiting Lecturer at Yale College (died 2014): “Either we will sink into a final coma and end it all or, as I trust and believe, we will awaken to the truth of our peril, a truth as great as life itself, and, like a person who has swallowed a lethal poison but shakes off his stupor at the last moment and vomits the poison up, we will break through the layers of our denials, put aside our fainthearted excuses, and rise up to cleanse the earth of nuclear weapons.”