Daily Update: Monday, April 25th, 2016

Mark the Evangelist by Andrea Mantegna and Pedro de San Jose Betancur

Today is the Feast Saint Mark, Evangelist (died c. 68) and the Optional Memorial of Saint Pedro de San José Betancur, Founder (died 1667). As today is the 25th of April, this date is a Major Rogation Day in the Church, unless this date is Easter (in which case the Major Rogation Day is transferred to April 27th).

Saint Mark is believed to be the young man who ran away when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51-52), and the “John whose other name was Mark” (Acts 12:25). He was a disciple of Saint Peter the Apostle who traveled with him to Rome, and was referred to as “my son Mark” by the first Pope. He went on a missionary journey with his cousin Barnabas and the Apostle Paul, but left before the journey was complete to return to Jerusalem; when Barnabas suggesting taking Mark along on a later trip, St. Paul refused on account of the earlier desertion, and Barnabas went on the journey with Mark instead of Paul. He evangelized in Alexandria, Egypt, established the Church there, served as its first bishop, founded the first famous Christian school, and is credited as the author of the earliest canonical Gospel; tradition holds that he wrote down the preachings of St. Peter. Tradition also holds that he was martyred by having a rope tied around his neck, and being dragged in the city streets by the rope until he was dead. In 828, relics believed to be the body of St. Mark were taken from Alexandria by two Venetian merchants and taken to Venice, where the Byzantine Theodore of Amasea had previously been the patron saint. A basilica was built there to house the relics. However, Coptic Christians believe that the head of the saint remained in Alexandria. Saint Mark is the Patron Saint of Egypt, of Venice, and of Barristers. On this day we also honor Saint Pedro de San José Betancur, Founder (died 1667). Born in 1626 in Vilaflor, Tenerife, he spent some time in a little cave in the arid region near the present-day town of El Médano (municipality of Granadilla de Abona). He worked as a shepherd until age 24, when in 1649 he began to make his way to Guatemala, hoping to connect with a relative engaged in government service there. By the time he reached Havana, Cuba, he was out of money and worked to earn his way to Guatemala City the following year. When he arrived he was so destitute that he joined the bread line which the Franciscans had established. He fell sick almost immediately but was able to recover his health. As a result of his illness and recovery, he very much wanted to become a priest and soon enrolled in the local Jesuit college (Jesuit College of San Borgia) in hopes of studying for the priesthood. No matter how hard he tried, however, he could not master the material, and thus withdrew from the school. Unable to receive holy orders, he became a Franciscan tertiary in the convent of Costa Rica in Antigua Guatemala, and took the name Peter of Saint Joseph. He visited hospitals, jails, the unemployed, and the young. Three years later, he opened Our Lady of Bethlehem, a hospital for the convalescent poor. Soon after there was a shelter for the homeless, schools for the poor, an oratory, and an inn for priests. He was imitated by other tertiaries and soon wrote up a rule which was adopted by the women who were involved in teaching the children. This led to the formation of a new religious order: la Orden de los Bethlemitas y de las Bethlemitas, subsequently recognized and approved by the Holy See. He is sometimes credited with originating the Christmas Eve posadas procession in which people representing Mary and Joseph seek a night’s lodging from their neighbors. The custom soon spread to Mexico and other Central American countries. He was canonized in 2002 and is credited as being the first Canarian and Guatemalan saint; he is the Patron Saint of Central America, of the Canary Islands, and of those who are homeless. And as today is the 25th of April, this date is a Major Rogation Day in the Church, unless this date is Easter (in which case the Major Rogation Day is transferred to April 27th). The word “rogation” comes from the Latin rogare,which means “to ask,” and the Rogation Days are four days set apart to bless the fields and to ask for God’s mercy on all of creation. The Major Rogation, which has no connection with the feast of Saint Mark (fixed for this date much later) seems to be of very early date and to have been introduced to counteract the ancient Robigalia, on which the pagans held processions and supplications to their gods. Saint Gregory the Great (d. 604) regulated the already existing custom. (The Minor Rogation Days are the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday preceding Ascension Thursday.)

I did my Book Devotional Reading and set up my Special K cereal to have for snacks at work; then Richard gathered the trash, and I wheeled the trash bin out to the curb. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading, and before we clocked in I did my Daily Update for yesterday, Sunday, April 24th, 2016 via WordPress for Android. Richard was on Three Card Black Jack until his table finally closed, then he was on the Shoe Blackjack game in our High Stakes area. I was on a Blackjack table until they moved me to be the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat and Pai Gow. On my first break after 7:00 am I called the Pharmacy and renewed a prescription.

After work we went to the Pharmacy; my prescription was not ready yet, as they were out of stock on the medication (a problem that seems to happen more often now, with the Pharmacy being with Walgreen’s rather than Kroger’s), so I will pick it up on Friday after work. On our way home we stopped at Wal-Mart, where Richard got groceries and my interim salad supplies. When I got home I made my lunch salads for today and tomorrow, and ate today’s salad while reading the morning paper. I then came to the Computer and did a couple of Advance Daily Update Drafts. I then printed out our 2015 State Tax Return to mail to the State of Louisiana. And after I watched Jeopardy! I came to the computer to finish today’s Daily Update, and then I will head for bed.

With no Saints to honor tomorrow, we will note that on tomorrow’s date in 1865 John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, was shot and fatally wounded by his pursuers. We will work our eight hours tomorrow on our Friday, and I have nothing much planned for tomorrow afternoon and evening. Our #8 ranked LSU Tigers will play a single away Baseball game with Tulane tomorrow evening.

Our Parting Quote on this Monday afternoon comes to us from Stefanie Zweig, German journalist and author. Born in 1932 in Leobschütz, now Głubczyce, Poland. In 1938 her parents fled to Africa in 1938 to escape persecution in Nazi Germany. They went from a prosperous urban life in Breslau (now Wrocław) to a poor farm in Kenya; Zweig was five years old. Her father became a soldier in the British arming during World War II. In 1941 the family received a postcard from Zweig’s grandmother through the Red Cross saying, “We are very excited, we are going to Poland tomorrow”. Zweig’s father explained that the grandmother was being sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, which was operated by the German occupiers of Poland. She and many others of Zweig’s family were murdered there. Zweig grew up speaking mostly English and Swahili (only speaking German at home with her parents) and attended an English boarding school while in Kenya, which was a British colony at the time. After the war, in 1947 the family moved back to Germany. The family’s original home had been in Upper Silesia, which was in the east of prewar Germany. After the war most of the region became part of Poland and the German residents had to move. The family settled in Frankfurt, where Zweig’s father had been offered a position as a judge as part of the “denazification” of the judicial system in postwar Germany; only Germans without connections to the Nazi party could serve as judges. Zweig was enrolled in the Schiller School in Frankfurt. Having become primarily an English speaker in Kenya, she needed to relearn German. After her graduation in 1953 Zweig started a career as a journalist. She worked for a time as an intern and then an editor for the Offenbach section of Abendpost, a tabloid newspaper which served the Frankfurt region. From 1959–1988 Zweig worked in Frankfurt for Abendpost and its successor Abendpost / Nachtausgabe. She directed the arts section (“Feuilleton”) from 1963. Zweig wrote a number of children’s books, commencing with Eltern sind auch Menschen (Parents are People Too) in 1978. Her first African novel was the novel for young adults Ein Mundvoll Erde (A Mouthful of Earth) in 1980. It described an infatuation with a Kĩkũyũ boy; the book won several awards, including the Glass Globe of the Royal Dutch Geographical Society. Abendpost / Nachtausgabe folded in 1988, after which Zweig became a freelance journalist and writer. Nirgendwo in Afrika (Nowhere in Africa) appeared in 1995. Zweig described it simply as “the story of a courageous father who taught his daughter not to hate.” The autobiographical novel recounted her life in Kenya from their arrival from Germany in 1938 until their return to Germany in 1947. The book was a bestseller in Germany, and launched a writing career that extended over another dozen novels. Zweig’s next novel, Irgendwo in Deutschland (Somewhere in Germany) (1996), was a sequel describing the family’s life in Germany from their return in 1947 until the death of her father from heart failure in 1958. The 2002 film adaptation of Nirgendwo in Afrika was written and directed by Caroline Link. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, the German Film Award for Best Feature Film, and several other prizes. While the film attracted international attention to Zweig, she was not directly involved in its making. Zweig subsequently published the Rothschildallee series of four novels that appeared from 2007 to 2011; Zweig’s family home in Frankfurt had long been on this street. In 2012 she published her memoir, Nirgendwo war Heimat: Mein Leben auf zwei Kontinenten (Nowhere was Home: My Life on Two Continents). In addition to her books, Zweig had continued her work as a journalist, and up to 2013 was writing a column Meine Welt (My World) for the newspaper Frankfurter Neue Presse (died 2014): “Coming back to Germany [in 1947] was a terrible shock for us all, the town was a shambles, and the famine was great, we went to bed hungry, we woke up hungry, and everything else was very strange to me, I had been to English schools, not German schools, and I didn’t know what the people of my age even talked about. I’d always been very interested in literature and all of a sudden I’d come to a country where their literature wasn’t the same as mine. It took me a long time to get settled.”

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