Alleluia! Today is the Sixth Sunday of Easter, known as Rogation Sunday. Today is also the Feast of Joseph the Worker, May Day, and International Worker’s Day. And today is also the final day of the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
The Minor Rogation Days are days of prayer and fasting, with progressions around the fields asking God’s protection on the crops just sprouting. Reciting the Litany of the Saints and other prayers of petition the parish would process around the boundaries of the parish. (These days became known as Rogation Days from the Latin word rogare, meaning “to ask”.) The Sunday before the Rogation Days became Rogation Sunday. While the Major Rogation Day (April 25th), the Rogation Sunday (the Sunday before the Ascension) and the Minor Rogation Days (the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before the Ascension) were removed from the Church Calendar in 1969, there is nothing to prevent me honoring them in this weblog. Turning to our Feast, Joseph, the husband of Mary and the foster-father of Jesus, was a “τεκτων”; traditionally the word has been taken to mean “carpenter”, though the Greek term is much less specific. It cannot be translated narrowly; it evokes an artisan with wood in general, or an artisan in iron or stone. Very little other information on Joseph is given in the Gospels, in which he never speaks, besides that he was the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the (legal) father of Jesus. On May 1st, 1955, Pope Pius XII granted a public audience to the Catholic Association of Italian Workers, whose members had gathered in Saint Peter’s Square to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their society. They were solemnly renewing, in common, their promise of loyalty to the social doctrine of the Church, and it was on that day that the Pope instituted the liturgical feast of May 1st, in honor of Saint Joseph the Worker. He assured his audience and the working people of the world: “You have beside you a shepherd, a defender and a father in Saint Joseph, the carpenter whom God in His providence chose to be the virginal father of Jesus and the head of the Holy Family. He is silent but has excellent hearing, and his intercession is very powerful over the Heart of the Savior.” This particular Feast was introduced to counteract May Day, a union, workers and socialists holiday. This reflects Joseph’s status as what many Catholics and other Christians consider the “patron of workers” and “model of workers.” Catholic and other Christians teachings and stories about or relating to Joseph and the Holy Family frequently stress his patience, persistence, and hard work as admirable qualities which believers should adopt. Long before the time of Pope Pius XII this day was celebrated as May Day. The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the festival of Flora, the Roman Goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane celebrations. Many pagan celebrations were abandoned or Christianized during the process of conversion in Europe. A more secular version of May Day continues to be observed in Europe and America; in this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the Maypole and crowning of the Queen of the May. Turning to the world of the working man, in 1889 at the first congress of the Second International (an organization of socialist and labour parties) meeting in Paris for the centennial of the French Revolution and the Exposition Universelle, there was a call for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago protests that began in May 1886 demonstrating for an eight-hour day (which ended with the Haymarket Rally and Bombing of May 4th, 1886). The 1890 demonstrations were so successful that May Day was formally recognized as an annual event at the International’s second congress in 1891. International Workers’ Day (a name used interchangeably with May Day) is a celebration of the social and economic achievements of the international labor movement and left-wing movements. May Day commonly sees organized street demonstrations and street marches by millions of working people and their labour unions throughout most of the countries of the world (except for the United States and Canada, which celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday of September). Today is also the last day of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Although it has been going on since 1970, and since 1973 I have never lived more than three hours away from New Orleans, I always refused to consider going because I am not a fan of jazz music. In 2009 I finally went to JazzFest with Richard and the kids (including Callie); I had a great time, not least because we saw Neil Young, whose set ended just before a torrential downpour. (Everything we had with us, or was wearing, got soaked, except for the cellphones, due to my foresight in bringing several Ziploc plastic baggies with me.) This final day of Jazz Fest features the Charmaine Neville Band, Marcia Ball, Tribute to B.B. King hosted by B.B. King’s Blues Band with special guests Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, Elvin Bishop, Dr. John, Gregory Porter, Irma Thomas, Tab Benoit, and Luther Kent, Arlo Guthrie – Alice’s Restaurant 50th Anniversary, and Neil Young Plus Promise of the Real.
Richard opted not to go to New Orleans, due to the thunderstorms and torrential rain forecast for New Orleans. I slept in, and did not wake up until 10:15 am. I flipped to the new month in our wall calendars, adjusted the date on my watches, cleared out my phone call list and voice mails on my Galaxy Note 4, deleted my Google search history, cleared the browsing data on Wikipedia, Google Play Store, and Facebook, did screenshots of my current Galaxy Note 4 home screens, and put the spare battery into my Galaxy Note 4. I then did my Book Devotional Reading, and started using a new powder puff. I then posted to Facebook that today was May Day and International Workers’ Day, did my Internet Devotional Reading, and said the Third Day of my Ascension Novena. I then ate my lunch salad and read the Sunday papers, and Richard gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb. I then got on the computer and finished my current music project of consolidating double albums.
I then went over to the church, and at the St. Edmund’s Spring Fair I started playing regular bingo at 3:30 pm. At 5:00 pm Big Bingo started, and I won $50.00 (splitting a $100 pot) when I won on four corners. I got home at 6:30 pm, and at 6:45 pm Richard and I went to eat Chinese for dinner at Peking. We got home at 7:30 pm, and I got on the computer to do today’s Daily Update. When I finish this Daily Update, I will take a bath and do some reading, then eventually go to bed.
Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saint Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor (died 373), and the Optional Memorial of Saint Wiborada, Religious and Martyr (died 926). It is also the first of three Minor Rogation Days in the Catholic Church. Richard and I are not working today at the casino, so we do not have to wake up early. The only things I have planned for tomorrow are to make my lunch salads for Monday and Tuesday, and to go to Verizon to see if we can get upgrades on our phones.
Our Parting Quote on this Sixth Sunday of Easter (Alleluia!) comes to us from Philipp von Boeselager, German Wehrmacht officer. Born in 1917 in Burg Heimerzheim, German Empire, his family was a distinguished Rhenish Roman Catholic family that could trace its origins to the Archbishopric of Magdeburg in 1363. Boeselager attended the Jesuit Aloysius College at Bad Godesberg until 1936. He wanted to study Law at university with a view to becoming a diplomat, but his grandfather thought he would be less compromised by the Nazis if he joined the army. His opinion turned against the Nazi government in June 1942 after he received news that five Roma people had been shot in cold blood solely because of their ethnicity. Together with his commanding officer Field Marshal Günther von Kluge he joined a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler. Once Hitler was dead, Boeselager was to order his troops (who were ignorant of the plot) to commandeer horses and return to Berlin to seize key parts of the city and to round up senior Nazis in a full-scale coup d’état. Their specific target in Operation Walküre would be the SS Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA), the central headquarters of the SS. The first attempt was in March 1943 when both Hitler and Heinrich Himmler were coming to the front to participate in a strategy meeting with Kluge’s troops. Boeselager was given a Walther PP with which he was to shoot both Hitler and Himmler at a dinner table in the officers’ mess. However, nothing ever became of this plan, because at the last minute, Himmler left Hitler’s company, and the conspirators decided that the risk of leaving him alive to succeed Hitler was too great. The second assassination attempt was in summer 1944. No longer caring about Himmler, the conspiracy planned to kill Hitler with a bomb when he was attending another strategy meeting in a wooden barracks. A job with an explosives research team meant that Boeselager had access to explosives, When ordered to deliver his cargo of British-made fuses, he found that the recipient was in a meeting, so Boeselager carried his payload in a suitcase to the cinema to avoid drawing attention to himself; he was then able to make the delivery. When the assassin’s bomb failed to kill the Führer on July 20th, 1944 (the suitcase bomb had been placed behind a massive oak table leg, so that the full force of the blast missed Hitler), Boeselager was informed in time to turn his unexplained cavalry retreat around and return to the front before suspicions were unduly raised. Because of Boeselager’s fortunate timing, his involvement in the operation went undetected, and he was not executed along with the majority of the other conspirators. His brother was also a participant in the plot, and likewise remained undetected; however, he was subsequently killed in action on the Eastern Front. Shortly before the end of the war, Boeselager overheard General Wilhelm Burgdorf saying, “When the war is over, we will have to purge, after the Jews, the Catholic officers in the army.” The devoutly Catholic Boeselager vocally objected, citing his own decorations for heroism in combat, and left before General Burgdorf could respond. After the war Boeselager’s part in the failed assassination attempt became known and he was regarded as a hero by Germany and France, receiving the highest military medals both countries could provide. He studied economics and became a forestry expert. Even in his old age, Boeselager still had nightmares about the conspiracy and the friends he lost in the war, and urged young people to become more involved in politics, as he felt apathy and the political inexperience of the German masses were two of the key reasons Hitler was able to come to power. On April 18th, 2008 Boeselager gave his last videotaped interview, conducted by Zora Wolter for the feature documentary The Valkyrie Legacy. It was televised on The History Channel in 2009 to coincide with the release of Valkyrie starring Tom Cruise and directed by Bryan Singer. At the time of his death Boeselager was the last survivor of the July 20th plot, and still had the Walther PP with which he was supposed to kill Hitler in the first plot (died 2008): “Et si omnes ego non — even if all, not I.”