Daily Update: Monday, April 18th, 2016

Cornelia Connelly and 04-15 - Tax Day and Boston Marathon

Today is the Remembrance of Venerable Cornelia Connelly, Religious (died 1879). We also note that today is Tax Day, being the day (transferred from Friday, April 15th, 2016, which was a holiday in Washington, D.C.) when tax returns for the  previous year (statements about income taxes) are due to the federal government from U.S. citizens, resident aliens, and certain nonresident aliens (except for residents in Massachusetts and Maine, whose Tax Day this year is tomorrow). As today is the Third Monday in April, today is the date of the 2016 Boston Marathon. Finally, today is the birthday of my Internet friend Jessica in California.

Our Venerable today was born as Cornelia Peacock in 1809 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In December 1831 she married Pierce Connelly, an Episcopal priest, and the two moved to Natchez, Mississippi, where Pierce had accepted the rectorship of the Holy Trinity Episcopal church. Their first two children, Mercer and Adeline, were born in Natchez; then in August 1835 Pierce resigned his pastorate, and Cornelia converted to Roman Catholicism at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. They took ship to Europe, and Pierce was received into the Church in Rome as a lay person. In the spring of 1838, on their return from Europe, the Connellys accepted an invitation to live and work at Grand Coteau, Louisiana. In early 1840, still grieving the death of her baby daughter Mary Magdalene, Cornelia made her first retreat of three days. God touched her deeply, and her interior life was profoundly changed. In February 1840, her two-year old son John Henry was playing with his dog when the dog accidentally pushed him into a vat of boiling sugar. He died of severe burns in Cornelia’s arms after 43 hours. (Both John Henry and his baby sister Mary Magdalene are buried in Grand Coteau; when I am there, I always leave flowers on their grave.) From this anguish Cornelia’s lifelong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of Sorrows was born. While she was pregnant with her fifth child in October of the same year, Pierce told her he felt called to the Roman Catholic priesthood. Cornelia agreed to move to Rome; before Pierce could become a priest, Cornelia was obliged to take a vow of chastity and she was encouraged to enter a religious order. In April 1844 Cornelia entered the Sacred Heart Convent at the Trinita dei Monti under special conditions, taking her baby son, Frank, with her. In July 1845 Pierce was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in the Convent chapel. While living at the Trinita, Cornelia began making tentative preparations for a congregation of which she would be the foundress. In 1846, encouraged by Lord Shrewsbury and Bishop Wiseman, she established the first house of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus in England, accompanied by three companions and her two youngest children, Adeline and Frank. There she began to manifest her qualities as a leader in education and spirituality. The beginning of the Society was small and there were many deprivations, but a spirit of joy and peace prevailed; Cornelia was able to inspire in her sisters something of her own serenity in adversity. Soon they were running schools for the poor and needy, and holding day, night, and Sunday classes to accommodate the young factory workers. The order, whose constitution is based on that of the Jesuits, remains devoted to teaching young women, and operates schools primarily in the United States. As her Society grew and her work in education flourished, great personal anguish returned when Pierce renounced his priesthood (not having advanced in the Roman Catholic hierarchy as quickly as he felt his merits deserved) and his Catholic faith and came to England to regain custody of their children. He removed them from the schools they were attending and denied Cornelia all contact with them, hoping thus to force her to return to him as his wife. He even pressed a lawsuit against her that gained notoriety in England, but the courts rejected his claim after a retrial. He spent the rest of his life writing anti-Catholic screeds. The effect on the children was largely negative; her oldest son died alienated from his mother, and her younger children became firmly convinced that Catholicism was to blame for their family’s problems. Today the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus are active in fourteen countries, striving to live the apostolic life as Cornelia did, seeking to meet the wants of the age through works of spiritual mercy. They are engaged in education and related spiritual and pastoral ministries. In 1992 the Catholic Church proclaimed Cornelia Connelly as Venerable, the second step in becoming a Saint; if you know of any miracles that can be attributed to her intercession, please contact the Vatican. Today is the last day on which federal tax returns for 2015 can be mailed (as postmarked) to avoid penalties, with some exceptions. Federal income tax was introduced with the Revenue Act of 1861 to help fund the Civil War. That Act stipulated that income tax “shall be due and payable on or before the thirtieth day of June”. There is an unsubstantiated claim that the first income tax was paid only by the very wealthy, and that they tended to spend their summers vacationing. The Commissioner of Internal Revenue is said to have argued, “The collection of taxes would be much easier if an earlier assessment was made, before they leave town.” The case of Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co. challenged the constitutionality of the Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act of 1894 which taxed incomes over $4,000 at the rate of two percent. The case was decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1895; they decided that the Act’s unapportioned income taxes on interest, dividends, and rents were effectively direct taxes, and that the Act was therefore unconstitutional because it violated the Constitution’s rule that direct taxes be apportioned. In 1913, eighteen years later, the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. This Amendment gave the United States Congress the legal authority to tax all incomes without regard to the apportionment requirement. The filing deadline for individuals was March 1st in 1913 and was changed to March 15th in 1918 and again to April 15th in 1955. Today the filing deadline for U.S. federal income tax returns for individuals remains April 15th or, in the event that the 15th falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday (which it did this year, the Friday being a holiday in Washington, D.C.), the first succeeding day that is not a Saturday, Sunday or holiday. (Because today is Patriot Day, the filing deadline for residents of Massachusetts and Maine is tomorrow.)  Today is also the Third Monday in April, and that means that today is the date of the annual Boston Marathon. Begun in 1897 and inspired by the success of the first modern-day marathon competition in the 1896 Summer Olympics, the Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world’s best-known road racing events. It is one of five World Marathon Major Events (with the other events held in London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City). The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) manages this event, and amateur and professional runners from all over the world compete in the Boston Marathon each year, braving the hilly New England terrain and varying weather to take part in the race. The event attracts an average of about 20,000 registered participants each year. In the 100th running of the Boston Marathon in 1996, the number of participants reached 38,000. While there are cash prizes awarded to the winners of the marathon, most of the runners participate for the accomplishment of having run the race at all. On the negative side, in 1980 Rosie Ruiz came out of nowhere to win the women’s race; a subsequent investigation concluded that Ruiz had skipped most of the race and blended into the crowd about one mile from the finish line, where she then ran to her apparent victory. And in 2013 the race was marred by the explosion of two bombs in the spectator section near the finish line, hours after the front-runners finished the race, but while thousands were still running. Three people died, with many people suffering dire injuries; a police officer and one of the bombers were killed in the subsequent manhunt, and the other bomber has been found guilty but not yet sentenced. On the positive side, Dick and Rick Hoyt completed their 31st Boston Marathon in 2014 when Dick was 73 and Rick was 52. Rick was born with cerebral palsy in 1962; in 1977, he and his father began to compete in road races and marathons, with Dick pushing Rick in his wheelchair. When asked about their motivation to continue racing, they both say that they hope to prove to people all over the world that disabled individuals should not be left in the corner and forgotten about, but rather included so that they can have the life experiences others are so lucky to have. A bronze statue in honor of the Hoyts was dedicated on April 8th, 2013, near the start of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. They did not finish the 2013 race (due to the bombing), and the 2014 race was their last as team runners; Dick was the Grand Marshal for the 2015 race, and Rick was in the race, pushed by Bryan Lyons, who has been with the pair since 2009. And today is the birthday of my Internet friend Jessica in California.

I did my Book Devotional Reading, posted to Facebook that today was Tax Day, then gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin to the curb. On our way to work for the first day of the current two week pay period, I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Once at the casino I called the Pharmacy and renewed a prescription (using the new Walgreens number for the prescription). When we clocked in Richard was on Let It Ride, then became the Relief dealer for Mini Baccarat, Pai Gow, and the $5.00 Minimum Bet Blackjack table. On my breaks I continued reading Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors. After 7:00 am I called the Pharmacy and renewed two prescriptions (with the old Kroger numbers), and I sent a text message to Julie about Wednesday and Thursday.

After work we went to the Pharmacy, and I picked up one of my prescriptions. (I will pick up the other two prescriptions after work on Friday.) On our way home I got Richard’s photos of my Kitten to my phone via Bluetooth, and got my photos of my Kitten to his phone via Bluetooth, and continued reading my book. Once home I heard back from Julie; we traded texts, and (if all goes as planned) I will see her on Wednesday afternoon in New Orleans. I read the morning paper, and finished reading Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors. I then took a nap for the rest of the day, and did not do my Daily Update.

With no Saints to honor tomorrow, we will note instead that on tomorrow’s date in 1775 occurred the first Battles of the American Revolutionary War, the Battles of Lexington and Concord. We will get up half an hour early and sign the Early Out list when we get to the casino. On my breaks I will do my Book Review for Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors for my weblog via WordPress for Android and for my GoodReads and Facebook accounts, and do my Daily Update for yesterday, Monday, April 18th, 2016 via WordPress for Android. At home I will do my laundry, and after Jeopardy! I will leave for Lafayette to attend the Third Tuesday Book Club meeting at Barnes and Noble to discuss Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shor.

Our Parting Quote on this Monday afternoon comes to us from Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer. Born in 1914 in Larvik, Norway, he studied Zoology and Geography at University of Oslo. At the same time, he privately studied Polynesian culture and history, consulting what was then the world’s largest private collection of books and papers on Polynesia, owned by Bjarne Kropelien, a wealthy wine merchant in Oslo. After seven terms and consultations with experts in Berlin, a project was developed and sponsored by his zoology professors; he was to visit some isolated Pacific island groups and study how the local animals had found their way there. The events surrounding his stay on the Marquesas, most of the time on Fatu Hiva, were told first in his book Paa Jakt efter Paradiset (Hunt for Paradise, 1938), which was published in Norway but, following the outbreak of World War II, was never translated and largely forgotten. Many years later, having achieved notability with other adventures and books on other subjects, Heyerdahl published a new account of this voyage under the title Fatu Hiva (1974). In 1947 he and five other adventurers went to Peru, constructed a pae-pae raft from balsa wood and other native materials, and sailed the raft west; after a 101 day, 4,300 mile journey across the Pacific Ocean, Kon-Tiki smashed into the reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands on August 7, 1947. Heyerdahl made the voyage to bolster his theory that Polynesia was settled from South America, though anthropologists continue to believe, based on linguistic, physical, and genetic evidence, that Polynesia was settled from west to east, migration having begun from the Asian mainland. Heyerdahl’s book about the expedition, Kon-Tiki (1950), has been translated into over 50 languages, and the documentary film of the expedition, itself entitled Kon-Tiki, won an Academy Award in 1951. In 1955-1956, Heyerdahl organized the Norwegian Archaeological Expedition to Rapa Nui (Easter Island). The expedition published two large volumes of scientific reports (Reports of the Norwegian Archaeological Expedition to Easter Island and the East Pacific) and Heyerdahl later added a third (The Art of Easter Island). His popular book on the subject Aku-Aku: The Secret of Easter Island (1958) was another international best-seller. In 1969 and 1970 Heyerdahl built two boats from papyrus and attempted to cross the Atlantic from Morocco in Africa. Based on drawings and models from ancient Egypt, the first boat, named Ra, was constructed by boat builders from Lake Chad in the Republic of Chad using reed obtained from Lake Tana in Ethiopia and launched into the Atlantic Ocean from the coast of Morocco. After a number of weeks, Ra took on water after its crew made modifications to the vessel that caused it to sag and break apart. The ship was abandoned and the following year, another similar vessel, Ra II, was built by boatmen from Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and likewise set sail across the Atlantic from Morocco, this time with great success. The boat reached Barbados, thus demonstrating that mariners could have dealt with trans-Atlantic voyages by sailing with the Canary Current. A book, The Ra Expeditions (1971), and a film documentary were made about the voyages. Heyerdahl built yet another reed boat, Tigris, which was intended to demonstrate that trade and migration could have linked Mesopotamia with the Indus Valley Civilization in what is now modern-day Pakistan. Tigris was built in Iraq and sailed with its international crew through the Persian Gulf to Pakistan and made its way into the Red Sea. After about 5 months at sea and still remaining seaworthy, the Tigris was deliberately burnt in Djibouti on April 3, 1978 as a protest against the wars raging on every side in the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa. In the years that followed he was often outspoken on issues of international peace and the environment. Heyerdahl made several visits to Azerbaijan between 1980 and 2000 and proposed that Azerbaijan was the site of an ancient advanced civilization. He also investigated the mounds found on the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean; he believed that his finds there fit with his theory of a sea-faring civilization which originated in what is now Sri Lanka, colonized the Maldives, and influenced or founded the cultures of ancient South America and Easter Island. His discoveries were detailed in his book The Maldive Mystery (1987). In 1991 he studied the Pyramids of Güímar on Tenerife in the Canary Islands and declared that they were not random stone heaps but actual pyramids. He believed that he had discovered their special astronomical orientation and claimed that the ancient people who built them were most likely sun worshipers due to the alignment of the pyramids. Heyerdahl advanced a theory according to which the Canaries had been bases of ancient shipping between America and the Mediterranean. His last project was presented in the book Jakten på Odin (The Search for Odin, 2002), in which he initiated excavations in Azov, near the Sea of Azov at the northeast of the Black Sea, and searched for the remains of a civilization to match the account of Snorri Sturluson in the Ynglinga saga, written in 1225; Heyerdahl accepted Snorri’s story as literal truth rather than myth. This project generated harsh criticism and accusations of pseudo-science from historians, archaeologists and linguists in Norway, who accused Heyerdahl of selective use of sources and a basic lack of scientific methodology in his work. The controversy surrounding the search for Odin-project was in many ways typical of the relationship between Heyerdahl and the academic community. His theories rarely won any scientific acceptance, whereas he himself rejected all scientific criticism and concentrated on publishing his theories in popular books aimed at the general public (died 2002): “For every minute, the future is becoming the past.”

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