Daily Update: Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Bede the Venerable, Gregory VII, Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, and 05-25 - Towel Day

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor (died 735), the Optional Memorial of Saint Gregory VII, Pope (died 1085), and the Optional Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, Virgin (died 1607). And among those who follow The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in whatever form (radio show, book, movie, what have you), today is Towel Day.

First, we honor Saint Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor (died 735). Born in 672 at Wearmouth, England, around the time that England was finally Christianized, he was raised from age seven in the abbey of Saints Peter and Paul at Wearmouth-Jarrow, and lived there the rest of his life as a Benedictine monk and (after 702) as a priest. As a teacher and author, he wrote about history, rhetoric, mathematics, music, astronomy, poetry, grammar, philosophy, hagiography, homiletics, and Bible commentary. He was known as the most learned man of his day, and his writings started the idea of dating this era from the incarnation of Christ. The central theme of Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (731) was of the Church using the power of its spiritual, doctrinal, and cultural unity to stamp out violence and barbarism. Our knowledge of England before the 8th century is mainly the result of Bede’s writing. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1899 by Pope Leo XIII, and he is the Patron Saint of English writers and historians. We also honor Saint Gregory VII, Pope (died 1085). Born in 1020 in Soana (modern Sovana), Italy as Hildebrand, he was educated in Rome, became a Benedictine monk, and was the chaplain to Pope Gregory VI. A reformer and excellent administrator, he was the chief counselor to Pope Victor II, Pope Stephen IX, Pope Benedict X, and Pope Nicholas II, and in 1073 became the 157th pope. At the time of his ascension, simony and a corrupt clergy threatened to destroy faith in the Church. Gregory took the throne as a reformer, and Emperor Henry IV promised to support him. Gregory suspended all clerics who had purchased their position, and ordered the return of all purchased church property. The corrupt clergy rebelled; Henry IV broke his promise, and promoted the rebels. Gregory responded by excommunicating anyone involved in lay investiture, including the king, Henry did penance in the snow at Canossa (where Gregory was) in 1077, and Gregory lifted the excommunication. When Henry broke his promise about lay investiture once again, Gregory excommunicated him again in 1080, and summoned Henry to Rome, but the emperor’s supporters drove Gregory into exile. Henry installed the anti-pope Guibert of Ravenna, who was driven from Rome by Normans who supported Gregory and returned him to the city; the Normans were, themselves, so out of control that the people of Rome drove out them and Gregory as well. The Pope then retreated to Salerno, Italy where he spent the remainder of his papacy. We honor Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, Virgin (died 1607). Born in 1566 at Florence, Italy as Catherine, she received a religious upbringing. She was initially sent to a convent at age 14, but was taken back home by her family who opposed her religious vocation and wanted her to marry well. They eventually gave in, and Catherine became a Carmelite of the Ancient Observance at 16, taking the name Sister Mary Magdalen. A mystic, she lived a hidden life of prayer and self-denial, praying particularly for the renewal of the Church and encouraging the sisters in holiness. Countless miracles followed her death, and she was canonized in 1669; she is the Patron Saint of the sick, and Co-Patron of Naples, and her aid is invoked against bodily ills and sexual temptation. Finally, today is Towel Day. Two weeks after the death of author Douglas Adams in 2001, fans of his work The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and all of its associated media creations proposed that each May 25 be Towel Day, as Chapter Three of the book notes, “A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.” The holiday is celebrated world- and universe-wide; in 2015 Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti read aloud a sample from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy from the International Space Station. (While the catch phrase of Towelie, the talking towel character on South Park, is “don’t forget to bring a towel,” there is no connection between him and Douglas Adams.)

Last night our #7 ranked LSU Tigers, the #5 seed in the SEC College Baseball Tournament, beat #12 seed Tennessee by the score of 5 to 4.

I had my clock set for 7:00 am, but did not wake up until 9:00 am. I posted to Facebook that today was Towel Day. I started the Weekly Computer Maintenance, then ate my breakfast toast while reading the morning paper. I did my Book Devotional Reading, then finished the Weekly Computer Maintenance and started the Weekly Virus Scan.

Leaving the house at 10:45 am, when I got to the Hub City I stopped at the Wal-Mart on Ambassador Caffrey to see if they had sweat headbands (they didn’t have much of a selection), so I went to Academy Sports on Louisiana Avenue, where I purchased three sweat headbands (purple), and an LSU backsack (marked down) to use when I do hiking (whenever that may be, with Richard or Liz Ellen). I ate lunch at the Piccadilly Cafeteria on Johnston and continued reading Julian’s Gospel: Illuminating the Life & Revelations of Julian of Norwich by Veronica Mary Rolf. I then returned The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan to the Lafayette Public Library – Southside Branch. Arriving at Barnes and Noble at 1:30 pm, I installed myself in a comfy chair (there seem to be fewer and fewer of them, alas) and did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Sixth Day of my Corpus Christi Novena. Before I left I purchased The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey by Patrick O’Brian, With An Afterward by Richard Snow, the last rump book in the Aubrey / Maturin series (the author died while writing the book). At the Kajan Mart in Rayne I purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for tonight’s drawing.

I arrived back home at 4:00 pm (the Weekly Virus Scan had completed) and at 4:30 pm Richard and I watched Jeopardy! I then came to the computer to do an Advance Daily Update Draft, then Michelle arrived at 6:00 pm to pick up her mail. I then did my Exercise Walking around the neighborhood, while Richard took Michelle down to see the kittens at the house at the end of the street. I used my Map My Walk app, and found that my route is 2.3 miles, which I did in 50 minutes and 27 seconds. I then came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update; when I finish with this Daily Update, I will get ready for bed and do some reading. Our #7 ranked LSU Tigers are the #5 seed in the SEC College Baseball Tournament, and tonight they will be playing #4 ranked (and #4 seed) Florida; I will post the results of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the traditional date of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), but not the date when it is celebrated in most United States Catholic dioceses (that will be on Sunday). And tomorrow is the Memorial of St. Philip Neri, Priest (died 1595). I will go through the box of hurricane supplies and see if we need anything; I normally do this before the annual Louisiana Sales Tax Holiday for Hurricane Preparedness, held on the last consecutive Saturday and Sunday of May, except that due to the money woes of Louisiana, there will not be an annual Louisiana Sales Tax Holiday for Hurricane Preparedness this year. I will also get my salad supplies at Wal-Mart, and make my lunch salads for Saturday and Sunday. (I still have my Tuesday salad in the refrigerator, and it looks like I will be eating it for lunch on Friday.) And, depending on how things go at the SEC College Baseball Tournament in Hoover, Alabama, our LSU Tigers will be playing either Mississippi State or Alabama tomorrow.

Our Parting Quote this Wednesday evening comes to us from Mary Ellen Mark, American photographer. Born in 1940 in the unincorporated suburb of Elkins Park in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, she began photographing with a Box Brownie camera at the age of nine. At her high school she was head cheerleader and exhibited a knack for painting and drawing. Mark received a BFA degree in painting and art history from the University of Pennsylvania, in 1962. After graduating she worked briefly in the Philadelphia city planning department before returning for a master’s degree in photojournalism at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, which she received in 1964. The following year, Mark received a Fulbright Scholarship to photograph in Turkey for a year, from which she produced her first book, Passport (1974). While there, she also traveled to photograph England, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Spain. In 1966 or 1967 she moved to New York City, where over the next several years she photographed demonstrations in opposition to the Vietnam War, the women’s liberation movement, transvestite culture, and Times Square. Her photography went on to address such social issues as homelessness, loneliness, drug addiction, and prostitution. Mark was well known for establishing strong relationships with her subjects. Mark joined Magnum Photos in 1977. For Ward 81 (1979), she lived for six weeks with the patients in the women’s security ward of Oregon State Hospital and, for Falkland Road (1981), she spent three months befriending the prostitutes who worked on a single long street in Bombay. She left Magnum Photos in 1981, joining Archive Pictures; in 1988 she opened her own agency. She served as a guest juror for photography call for entries at The Center for Fine Art Photography and taught workshops at the International Center of Photography in New York, in Mexico and at the Center for Photography at Woodstock. Her project “Streets of the Lost” with writer Cheryl McCall, for Life magazine, produced her book Streetwise (1988) and was developed into the documentary film Streetwise, directed by her husband Martin Bell and with a soundtrack by Tom Waits. For Look magazine she photographed Federico Fellini shooting Satyricon (1969). Mark was also a unit photographer on movie sets, shooting production stills of more than 100 movies, including Arthur Penn’s Alice’s Restaurant (1969), Mike Nichols’ Catch-22 (1970), Carnal Knowledge (1971) and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979) through to Baz Luhrmann’s Australia (2008). Her major medium was film, using a wide range of cameras in various formats, from 35 mm, 120/220, 4×5-inch view camera, and a 20×24 Polaroid Land Camera, primarily in black and white using Kodak Tri-X film. She co-wrote, and was associate producer and still photographer, for the feature film American Heart (1992), starring Jeff Bridges and Edward Furlong, and directed by her husband; it depicted a gruff ex-convict who struggles to get his life back on track. In 2003 she won the Lucie Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Documentary Photography, and in 2014 she won the Lifetime Achievement in Photography Award from the George Eastman House and won the Outstanding Contribution Photography Award from the World Photography Organisation. She published eighteen books of photographs; contributed to publications including Life, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, the New York Times, and Vanity Fair, and her photographs were exhibited worldwide (died 2015): “I feel an affinity for people who haven’t had the best breaks in society. What I want to do more than anything is acknowledge their existence.”

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