Daily Update: Saturday, May 21st, 2016

Eugene de Mazenod, Cristóbal Magallanes Jara, and Franz Jägerstätter and Armed Forces Day and Preakness Stakes 2016

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Eugene de Mazenod, Bishop (died 1861), the Optional Memorial of Saint Cristóbal Magallanes Jara, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (died 1927), and the Optional Memorial of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, Layman and Martyr (died 1943). Today is the third of three Ember Days for this season of the year. We note that today is Armed Forces Day and the day on which the Preakness Stakes is run. (Will this year give us another Triple Crown in horse racing?) It is also the birthday of my Internet friend Denise in North Carolina (1954) and of Kyran, one of the Assembled (1985).

Born in 1782 at Aix-en-Provence, France, Charles Joseph Eugene de Mazenod was an eldest son; his mother was of the French middle class, convent educated, and wealthy; his father was an aristocrat, classically educated, and poor. In 1790, at age eight, he fled with his family to exile in Italy to escape the French Revolution. He spent eleven years in Italy, living in Nice, Turin, Venice, Naples, and Palermo. While he learned Italian and German from dealing with people day to day, the bulk of his education came in Venice from a local priest. In Palermo he was exposed to a wild and worldly life among rich young Italian nobles. After the Revolution, his mother returned to France, but his father stayed in Italy, ostensibly for political reasons. Upon his own return to France in 1802 in an attempt to reclaim the family lands, Eugene tried to reunite his parents, but failed, and they were divorced, an unusual event in the early 19th century. Torn within between the worldly life and the spiritual life, he had a mystical experience at the foot of a cross on Good Friday in 1807 when Eugene was momentarily touched by the full force of the love of God. He entered the seminary of Saint Sulpice, Paris in 1808, and was ordained in 1811 at age 29 at Amiens. Because of his noble birth he was immediately offered the position of Vicar General to the bishop of Amiens. However, he renounced his family’s wealth and preferred to become a parish priest in Aix-en-Provence, working among the poor, preaching missions and bringing them the church in their native Provencal dialect, not the French used by the upper classes. He worked among the sick, prisoners, the poor, and the overlooked young. He contracted, and nearly died from, typhus while working in prisons. He gathered other workers around him, both clergy and laymen; they worked from a former Carmelite convent, and the priests among them formed the Missionaries of Provence who conducted parish missions throughout the region. They were successful, and their reputation spread, bringing requests for them outside the region. Eugene realized the need for formal organization, and in 1826 he received approval from Pope Leo XII to found a new congregation, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate founded on his core of missionaries. Though he would have preferred to remain a missionary, he knew that position with the Church hierarchy would allow him to insure the success of his little congregation. He was appointed Vicar-General of Marseille in 1823, titular bishop of Icosia in 1832, co-adjutor in 1834, and in 1837 became Bishop of Marseille, ordained by Pope Gregory XVI. He founded 23 parishes, built or restored 50 churches, cared for aged and persecuted priests, restored ecclesiastical discipline, and developed catechetics for young people. He started work on the cathedral and shrine of Notre-Dame de la Garde in Marseille, welcomed 33 congregations of religious brothers and sisters into the diocese, more than doubled the number of priests in his diocese, and celebrated all ordinations himself. In 1841 Bishop de Mazenod’s first overseas missionaries arrived in Canada. He publicly endorsed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and worked for its promulgation. His printed writings run to twenty-five volumes. He was made a peer of the French Empire, and promoted to Archbishop of Marseille in 1851 by Pope Blessed Pius IX. Named senator and member of the Legion of Honour by Napoleon III in 1856, he was proposed as a cardinal in 1859. He is the Patron Saint of dysfunctional families. We also honor Cristóbal Magallanes Jara, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (died 1927). Born in Totatiche, Jalisco, Mexico, in 1869, his was a farm family, and he worked as a shepherd in his youth. Entering the seminary at 19, he was ordained at the age of 30 and became parish priest at Totatiche, Mexico. He helped found schools, a newspaper, catechism centers for children and adults, carpentry shops, and an electric plant to power the mills. He worked with the indigenous people to form agrarian cooperatives with the town’s people, and was noted for his devotion to Our Lady. When the anti-Church government closed all seminaries in 1914, Father Cristóbal gathered displaced seminarians, and started his own seminary; it was quickly suppressed. He formed another, and another, and when they were all closed, the seminarians conducted classes in private homes. He wrote and preached against armed rebellion, but was falsely accused of promoting the Cristero guerrilla revolt. Arrested on May 21st, 1927 while en route to celebrate Mass at a farm, he gave away his few remaining possessions to his executioners and gave them absolution, and, without a trial, he was martyred with Saint Agustin Caloca. He is a relatively recent Saint, having been canonized in 2000 by Saint Pope John Paul II, who at the same time canonized a group of some 25 saints and martyrs who died from 1926 to 1929 during the Mexican Cristero War. The vast majority were Roman Catholic priests who were executed for carrying out their ministry despite the suppression under the anti-clerical laws of Plutarco Elías Calles. Blessed Franz Jägerstätter was born as Franz Huber in 1907 in Sankt Radegund, Upper Austria, Austria-Hungary. An illegitimate child, he was first cared for by his paternal grandmother. His natural father was killed in World War I when he was still a child, and when his mother married in 1917, Franz was adopted by her husband, Heinrich Jägerstätter. In his youth he gained a reputation for being a wild fellow, but, in general, his daily life was like that of most Austrian peasants. He worked as a farmhand and also as a miner in Eisenerz, until in 1933 he inherited the farmstead of his foster father. In that same year, he fathered an out-of-wedlock daughter. In 1936 he married a deeply religious woman; their honeymoon was a pilgrimage to Rome. When German troops moved into Austria in 1938, Jägerstätter was the only person in the village to vote against the Anschluss in the plebiscite of April 10th. The local authorities suppressed his dissent and announced unanimous approval. Although he was not involved with any political organization and did undergo one brief period of military training, he remained openly anti-Nazi and publicly declared he would not fight in the war. He joined the Third Order of Saint Francis in 1940 and worked as a sacristan at the local parish church, being deferred from military service several times. In 1940, aged 33, he was conscripted into the German army and completed basic training. Returning home in 1941 under an exemption as a farmer, he began to examine the morality of the war and discussed this with his bishop, but was saddened that the bishop seemed afraid to confront the issues. After many delays, Jägerstätter was finally called to active duty on February 23rd, 1943. By this time, he had three daughters with his wife, the eldest not quite six. He maintained his position against fighting for the Third Reich and upon entering into the Wehrmacht on March 1st declared his conscientious objection. His offer to serve as a paramedic was ignored. A priest from his village visited him in jail and tried to talk him into serving, but did not succeed. He was immediately imprisoned, first at Linz, then at Berlin-Tegel. Accused of Wehrkraftzersetzung (undermining of military morale), after a military trial at the Reichskriegsgericht he was sentenced to death on July 6th and subsequently executed by guillotine at Brandenburg-Görden Prison on August 9th, 1943, aged 36. In 1946 his ashes were buried at the Sankt Radegund cemetery. Jägerstätter was criticized by his countrymen, especially Catholics who had served in the military, for failing in his duty as a husband and father. The municipality of Sankt Radegund at first refused to put his name on the local war memorial and a pension for his widow was not approved until 1950. Jägerstätter’s fate was not well known until 1964, when American sociologist Gordon Zahn published his biography, In Solitary Witness. Film director Axel Corti made a TV movie of his life, titled Der Fall Jägerstätter, in 1971, starring Kurt Weinzierl. His case was a topic of the annual Braunauer Zeitgeschichte-Tage conference in 1995. The death sentence was nullified by the Landgericht Berlin on May 7th, 1997, and a Stolperstein (a commemorative cobblestone memorial for victims of the Holocaust) for Jägerstätter was laid in Sankt Radegund in 2006. In June 2007 Pope Benedict XVI issued an apostolic exhortation declaring Jägerstätter a martyr. On October 26th, 2007, he was beatified in a ceremony held by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins at the New Cathedral in Linz. His feast day is the day of his christening rather than that of the anniversary of his death, and he is the Patron of Conscientious Objectors. Today is the third of three Ember Days for this season of the year. Ember days (a corruption from the Latin Quatuor Tempora, four times) are the days at the beginning of the seasons ordered by the Church as days of fast and abstinence. They were definitely arranged and prescribed for the entire Church by Pope Gregory VII (1073 – 1085) for the consecutive Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after December 13th (the feast of St. Lucy), after Ash Wednesday, after Whitsunday (Pentecost), and after September 14th (Exaltation of the Cross). The purpose of their introduction, besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy. As today is the Third Saturday in May, today is Armed Forces Day. It falls near the end of Armed Forces Week, which begins on the second Saturday of May and ends on the third Sunday of May. The day was created in 1949 to honor Americans serving in the five U.S. military branches (the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard) following the consolidation of the military services in the Department of Defense. It was intended to replace the separate Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Days, but observance of these days, especially within each particular service, continues to this day. Because of their unique training schedules, National Guard and Reserve units may celebrate Armed Forces Day / Week over any period in May. Also held every year on the Third Saturday in May is the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. This year is the 141st “Run for the Black-Eyed Susans”; a blanket of Black-Eyed Susans (the state flower of Maryland) is draped on the winning horse’s neck. The Preakness is the second leg in American thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown series and almost always attracts the Kentucky Derby winner, some of the other horses that ran in the Derby, and often a few horses that did not start in the Derby. (It also attracts those who wish a chance to sing “Maryland, My Maryland”. The third verse is the one sung, as the one least objectionable in certain circles; the song is a Confederate battle hymn, and contains lyrics such as “Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum!”) Today is also the birthday of my Internet friend Denise in North Carolina (1954) and of Kyran, one of the Assembled (1985).

Last night our #8 ranked LSU Tigers won the second game of their three-game home College Baseball series with #1 ranked Florida by the score of 5 to 4.

I posted to Facebook that today was Armed Forces Day, did my Book Devotional Reading, and put out the flag. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Second Day of my Corpus Christi Novena. We got gas for the truck at Valero, and once at work we attended the Pre-Shift Meeting. When we hit the casino floor Richard was on Three Card Blackjack; when that table closed he changed Blackjack cards, then was on the Sit-Down Blackjack table for the rest of the day. I was the Relief Dealer for Macau Mini Baccarat and Mini Baccarat, then the Relief Dealer for Macau Mini Baccarat and Pai Gow.

When we got home from work I set up my medications for next week (I have no prescriptions to renew), then I read the morning paper while Richard paid bills. I then went to the Adoration Chapel and did my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. When I got home from Adoration, I plugged the bills Richard had paid into my Checkbook Pro app. Our #8 ranked LSU Tigers won the first game (postponed from Thursday evening) of their three-game home College Baseball series with #1 Florida by the score of  7 to 3. And I am now doing today’s Daily Update; when I finish this Daily Update I will head to bed early. Our #8 ranked LSU Tigers will be playing the third game of their three-game home College Baseball series with #1 ranked Florida later this afternoon; this game will end their regular season, with the SEC Baseball Tournament beginning on Tuesday, May 24th in Hoover, Alabama. (I will record the score of this afternoon’s third game in tomorrow’s Daily Update.) The Full Moon will arrive at 4:17 pm, and Nyquist, the Kentucky Derby winner, ridden by jockey Mario Gutierrez, will attempt to win the Preakness Stakes this afternoon (if he does, we might have another Triple Crown winner at the Belmont on June 11th.)

Tomorrow is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, and the Optional Memorial of Saint Rita of Cascia, Religious (died 1457). Richard and I will work our eight hours at the casino, and on our way home we will stop at Wal-Mart for groceries and such. I may go to bed early tomorrow, but not before making my lunch salads for Monday and Tuesday (and producing yet another Daily Update).

This Saturday afternoon brings us a Parting Quote from Otis Clark, American butler and preacher. Born in Meridian, Oklahoma in 1903, he grew up in segregated Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was employed as a drugstore delivery boy in 1921 when, on the afternoon of May 30th, a black teenager, Dick Rowland, used the elevator in the Drexel building in downtown Tulsa. As Rowland exited the elevator, an employee of Renberg’s Clothing Store heard what was thought to be a scream. The clerk reached the conclusion that Sarah Page, the white elevator operator, had been assaulted. Newspaper headlines supported the account, causing a race riot to occur in Tulsa the next day, on May 31st, 1921. Clark saw many people die in what is considered to be the worst ethnic riot in American history. He was trying to get a car to help victims of the riot when gunfire came his way. Clark ran for his life while people were shooting at him, trying to get out of the way of the bullets. His family home was burned to the ground and he believed his stepfather was killed during the riots, as he was never seen again. The 18-hour siege destroyed thirty blocks of a thriving African-American residential and business community known as the “Black Wall Street,” leaving 38 known dead, over 200 missing (a figure estimated by the American Red Cross) and 10,000 homeless. Shortly thereafter, at age 19, Clark fled Tulsa on a train bound for California to look for his biological father. He survived 20 days in a California jail for bootlegging and selling illegal whiskey. He wound up getting married and finding employment in Hollywood as a butler for movie stars Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, and Joan Crawford; his wife lived at the Crawford residence working as the cook. Based on a spiritual dream to become a preacher doing the work of God, Clark later became an itinerant evangelist traveling the United States and the world on behalf of the Church of God In Christ and was officially ordained in 1946. In 2008 a documentary titled Before They Die told the story of Clark and one other living survivor of the 1921 riot. Despite his advanced age, Clark was in excellent health, not using medication, hearing aids, or a cane when walking. He traveled to Zimbabwe for a three-week mission trip when he was 104 and visited Canada in January 2012. At the time of his death at the age of 109 he was the oldest living practicing evangelist and preparing for a mission trip to Nigeria in 2013. He was also the oldest living survivor of the 1921 Tulsa race riot (died 2012): “My favorite verse is, ‘He that believeth and is baptized will be saved.’ Yep, he that believeth. God will give you eternal life. You will live all eternity with God, but you got to be on God’s side. I hold that if you are on God’s side, you are on the winning side.”

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