Today is the First Friday of the month, dedicated to devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Today is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga (died 1886) and Companions, Martyrs (died 1885 – 1887), and the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops has designated Friday, June 3rd, 2016 as a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Protection from Storms. In the secular world, today is the anniversary of the birth of Jefferson Davis, first and only President of the Confederacy (1808), Confederate Memorial Day in Louisiana, and the date when, according to singer Bobby Gentry in 1967, Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge. And since today is the first Friday in June, today is National Doughnut Day.
The First Friday of each month is dedicated to devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (more anon). Today’s Solemnity of the Sacred Heart always falls on the nineteenth day after Pentecost, which is always a Friday. The devotion especially emphasizes the unmitigated love, compassion, and long-suffering of the heart of Christ towards humanity, with Jesus’ physical heart as the representation of his divine love for humanity. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus can be clearly traced back at least to the eleventh century. It marked the spirituality of Bernard of Clairvaux in the twelfth century and of Bonaventure and Gertrude in the thirteenth. The beginnings of a devotion toward the love of God as symbolized by the heart of Jesus are found even in the fathers of the Church, including Origen, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine of Hippo, Hippolytus of Rome, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr and Cyprian, who used in this regard John 7:37-39 and John 19:33-37. But the first liturgical feast of the Sacred Heart was celebrated, with episcopal approval, on August 31st, 1670, in the major seminary of Rennes, France, through the efforts of Saint John Eudes. The Mass and Office composed by this saint were adopted elsewhere also, especially in connection with the spread of devotion to the Sacred Heart on the First Friday of each month following on the revelations of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (died 1690). A Mass of the Sacred Heart won papal approval for use in Poland and Portugal in 1765, and another was approved for Venice, Austria and Spain in 1788. It is fairly unusual that the First Friday in a month coincides with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart (the next time this will happen will be in 2024). The Promises that Jesus gave to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque in visions in 1672 and 1673 to those that practice the First Friday Devotions are:
- I will give them all of the graces necessary for their state of life.
- I will establish peace in their houses.
- I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
- I will be their strength during life and above all during death.
- I will bestow a large blessing upon all their undertakings.
- Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy.
- Tepid souls shall grow fervent.
- Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
- I will bless every place where a picture of my heart shall be set up and honored.
- I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
- Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be blotted out.
- I promise you in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving their sacraments; My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.
Today’s Saint was born in 1860 or 1865 in Bulimu, Buganda, Uganda into the Ngabi clan, and was a page of the court of King Mwanga II. While the King at first had accepted Christian missionaries among his people, he began to insist that Christian converts abandon their new faith (reportedly because his Christian pages refused to participate in homosexual acts with him; Lwanga especially protected the pages) and executed many. After a massacre of Anglicans in 1885 the court’s resident Catholic priest, Joseph Mukasa, reproached the king for the deed. Mwanga had Mukasa beheaded and arrested all of his followers. Lwanga took up Mukasa’s duties, and secretly baptized those of his pupils who had only been catechumens on May 26th, 1886. Carl Lwanga and eleven other Catholics were burnt alive on June 3rd; another Catholic, Mbaga Tuzinde, was clubbed to death for refusing to renounce Christianity, and his body was thrown into the furnace to be burned along with Lwanga and the others. Lwanga and his companions in death were canonized in 1964 by Pope Paul VI. Although the Anglicans were not canonized, they were called “worthy of mention” for enduring “death for the name of Christ”. Saint Lwanga is the Patron Saint of torture victims, of converts, and of African Catholic Youth Action. The Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops has designated Friday, June 3rd, 2016 as a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Protection from Storms. We thus note the following prayers, which are appropriate to say during this Hurricane Season:
Prayer for Protection against Storms and Hurricanes
O God, Master of this passing world, hear the humble voices of your children. The Sea of Galilee obeyed your order and returned to its former quietude; you are still the Master of land and sea. We live in the shadow of a danger over which we have no control. The Gulf, like a provoked and angry giant, can awake from its seeming lethargy, overstep its conventional boundaries, invade our land and spread chaos and disaster. During this hurricane season, we turn to You, O loving Father. Spare us from past tragedies whose memories are still so vivid and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with the passing of time. O Virgin, Star of the Sea, Our Beloved Mother, we ask you to plead with your Son in our behalf, so that spared from the calamities common to this area and animated with a true spirit of gratitude, we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son to reach the heavenly Jerusalem where a storm-less eternity awaits us. Amen.
Most Rev. Maurice Schexnayder (1895 – 1981) Second Bishop of Lafayette
We also honor Jefferson Davis, first and only President of the Confederacy, born on this date in Kentucky in 1808. After initially attending Transylvania University Davis later graduated from West Point. Davis fought in the Mexican-American War as a colonel of a volunteer regiment, and was the United States Secretary of War under Democratic President Franklin Pierce. Both before and after his time in the Pierce administration, he served as a Democratic U.S. Senator representing the State of Mississippi. As a senator, he argued against secession, but did agree that each state was sovereign and had an unquestionable right to secede from the Union. On February 9th, 1861, after he resigned from the U.S. Senate, Davis was selected as the provisional President of the Confederate States of America; he was elected without opposition to a six-year term that November. During his presidency, Davis took charge of the Confederate war plans but was unable to find a strategy to stop the larger, more powerful and better organized Union. After Davis was captured on May 10th, 1865, he was charged with treason, though not tried, and stripped of his eligibility to run for public office. While not disgraced, he was displaced in Southern affection after the war by the leading Confederate general, Robert E. Lee. However, many Southerners empathized with his defiance, refusal to accept defeat, and resistance to Reconstruction. Over time, admiration for his pride and ideals made him a Civil War hero to many Southerners, and his legacy became part of the foundation of the postwar New South. In spite of his former status as the president of the Confederacy, Davis began to encourage reconciliation by the late 1880s, telling Southerners to be loyal to the Union; he died in New Orleans in 1889, and now rests in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. Per Louisiana Revised Statues §1:55, today is Confederate Memorial Day. (Longtime readers of this weblog know that I have been in Louisiana since 1973, and married to a Cajun since 1984. But long ago I was born north of the Mason-Dixon Line, and my great-greats fought for the Union in the War; I will not eat grits, I will not suck the fat out of the heads of boiled crawfish, and I will not celebrate Confederate Memorial Day as such.) As today is the Third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day, we remember that according to singer Bobby Gentry in 1967, today is the day that Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge (as related in her hit song, “Ode to Billie Joe”). Fortunately for the local police forces in Tippah County and Leflore County, Mississippi, the old Tallahatchie Bridge collapsed in 1972, stopping those who were inclined to jump off of the bridge in imitation of Billie Joe. Finally, as this is the first Friday in June, today is National Doughnut Day. This holiday started in 1938 as a fund raiser for The Salvation Army in Chicago; their goal was to help those in need during the Great Depression, and to honor The Salvation Army “Lassies” of World War I, who served doughnuts to soldiers. Soon after the US entrance into World War I in 1917, The Salvation Army sent a fact-finding mission to France. The mission concluded that the needs of US enlisted men could be met by canteens/social centers termed “huts” that could serve baked goods, provide writing supplies and stamps, and provide a clothes-mending service. Typically, six staff members per hut would include four female volunteers who could “mother” the boys. These huts were established by The Salvation Army in the United States near army training centers. About 250 Salvation Army volunteers went to France. Because of the difficulties of providing freshly baked goods from huts established in abandoned buildings near to the front lines, the two Salvation Army volunteers (Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance) came up with the idea of providing doughnuts. These are reported to have been an “instant hit”, and “soon many soldiers were visiting The Salvation Army huts”. Margaret Sheldon wrote of one busy day: “Today I made 22 pies, 300 doughnuts, 700 cups of coffee.” Soon, the women who did this work became known by the servicemen as “Doughnut Dollies”. A misapprehension has taken hold that the provision of doughnuts to US enlisted men in World War I is the origin of the term “doughboy” to describe US infantry. But, the term was in use as early as the Mexican-American War of 1846–47. In the Second World War, Red Cross Volunteers also distributed doughnuts, and it became routine to refer to the Red Cross girls as Doughnut Dollies as well. During the Vietnam War, prisoners of war at the Son Tay prison camp in 1969 tricked their captors into giving out doughnuts for the birthday of the United States Marine Corps on November 1oth by convincing them that the holiday thus honored was National Doughnut Day. In Chicago, National Doughnut Day is still a fundraiser for The Salvation Army.
I did my Book Devotional Reading, posted to Facebook that today was Billie Joe McAllister Day, and posted to Facebook that today was National Doughnut Day. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Once we clocked in, Richard was the Relief dealer for Mini Baccarat, Pai Gow, and Three Card Blackjack (until they closed the Three Card Blackjack table), and I was the Relief Dealer for Mississippi Stud, Three Card Poker, and Let It Ride. And on the ADR 2 side of the casino, where I take most of my breaks, the Pepsi machine was now a Coke machine.
It started to storm just as we clocked out. When we got into town, the rain was still behind us, so Richard got gas for the truck at Valero. Once home I ate my lunch salad and read the morning paper. I then went to bed for the rest of the day. I did not exercise or do my First Friday devotions. My package of replacement headphone ear covers came in from Amazon, and our tax refund from the State of Louisiana was deposited to our checking account. And, in a game delayed by rain, at the College World Series Regional in Alex Box in Baton Rouge, our LSU Tigers beat Utah Valley by the score of 7 to 1.
Tomorrow is the First Saturday of the month, dedicated to devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; and, again a rare occurrence, tomorrow is the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We will work our eight hours, and in the afternoon, I will go to the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. When I get home I will do my Daily Update for Friday, June 3rd, 2016, then do my Daily Update for Saturday, June 4th, 2016, then go to bed. At the College World Series Regional in Alex Box in Baton Rouge, our LSU Tigers will be facing the winner of the Rice / Southeastern Louisiana game at 7:00 pm (subject to rain delays). And the New Moon will arrive at 10:02 pm.
Our Parting Quote on this First Friday afternoon comes to us from Will D. Campbell, American minister, activist, author, and lecturer. Born in 1924 in Amite County, Mississippi, he was the son of a farmer, and was ordained as a minister by his local Baptist congregation at age 17. He attended Louisiana College, then enlisted in the Army during World War II where he served as a medic. After the war, he attended Wake Forest College (BA, English), Tulane University, and Yale Divinity School. Though he held a pastorate in Louisiana from 1952 to 1954, Campbell spent most of his career in other settings. In 1954, he took a position as director of religious life at the University of Mississippi, only to resign it in 1956, in part because of the hostility (including death threats) he received as a supporter of integration. He subsequently took a position as a field officer for the National Council of Churches, where he had his closest contact with the Civil Rights Movement. In 1957 Campbell participated in two notable events of the Civil Rights Movement: he was one of four people who escorted the black students who integrated the Little Rock, Arkansas, public schools; and he was the only white person present at the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Some black delegates opposed admitting him, but Bayard Rustin sponsored him. In 1961, he helped “Freedom Riders” of the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to integrate interstate bus travel, despite white mob violence, in Alabama. He appealed to Southern Christian churches to end their own segregation and fight discrimination, rather than remain silent. Campbell eventually left organized religion, though he remained firmly Christian. In 1963 Campbell left the National Council of Churches to become director of the Committee of Southern Churchmen, which provided a home for his activism in the subsequent years. This organization published a journal, Katallagete, the title of which is the New Testament Greek for the Pauline phrase “be reconciled,” a reference to 2 Corinthians 5:20. The journal featured articles about politics and social change, as understood through the lens of the Christian faith, particularly the neo-orthodox movement, which Campbell became acquainted with at Yale. Edited by James Y. Holloway of Kentucky’s Berea College, Katallagete was published from 1965 until the early 1990s. His uncompromising theology led him to keep his distance from political movements. These convictions sometimes caused friction between Campbell and other civil rights figures, for example, when Campbell ministered to members of the Ku Klux Klan and visited James Earl Ray in prison. While Campbell was best known in connection with civil rights activism, he also took an interest in other political issues. He participated in protests against the Vietnam War and helped draft resisters find sanctuary in Canada. In 1977 he wrote Brother to a Dragonfly, which was part autobiography, part elegy for Campbell’s brother, and part oral history of the Civil Rights Movement. In the late 1970s he spoke out against the death penalty, particularly after forming a relationship with John Spenkelink, whom the state of Florida executed in 1979. Campbell also expressed an opposition to abortion. Akin to the likes of William Stringfellow and Jacques Ellul (who were both contributors to Katallagete), Campbell espoused a fairly strong distrust of government and a belief that people must make their own history. These last two stands sharply distinguished Campbell’s thought from that of most religious liberal activists, bringing his views in line with those of more recent postliberal theologians, who denounce liberal (as well as conservative) esteem for civic society as a misplaced faith, an idolatry taking the place of God and Jesus Christ in the Christian life. The Committee of Southern Churchmen relinquished control of Katallagete to Campbell and Holloway in 1983. He continued writing books, mostly parables, children’s books, and books about the Civil Rights Movement. In 1999 he wrote Soul Among Lions: Musings of a Bootleg Preacher. By 2005 Campbell continued his work on a personal basis among his network of acquaintances including Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Dick Gregory, Jules Feiffer and Studs Terkel. Although remaining a Baptist, he reputedly conducted house church worship services in his home in Mt. Juliet, outside of Nashville, late into his life (died 2013): “Anyone who is not as concerned with the immortal soul of the dispossessor as he is with the suffering of the dispossessed is being something less than Christian.”