Daily Update: Saturday, July 30th, 2016

Peter Chrysologus and 07-30 - International Friendship Day

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor (died 450). Today is also International Friendship Day. And the Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower is (or was) today, in the predawn sky to the south.

Born in 406 in Imola, Italy to a Pagan family, today’s Saint was ordained a deacon by Cornelius, Bishop of Imola. He was made an archdeacon through the influence of Emperor Valentinian III. Pope Sixtus III (died 440) appointed Peter to the See of Ravenna in about the year 433, apparently rejecting the candidate elected by the people of the city. The traditional account, as recorded in the Roman Breviary, is that Sixtus had a vision of St. Peter and St. Apollinaris, the first bishops of Rome and Ravenna respectively, who showed Sixtus a young man and said he was the next Bishop of Ravenna. When the group from Ravenna arrived, including Cornelius and his archdeacon Peter from Imola, Sixtus recognized Peter as the young man in his vision and consecrated him as a bishop. Known as The Doctor of Homilies, Peter was known for his short but inspired talks; he is said to have been afraid of boring his audience. After hearing his first homily as bishop, Empress Galla Placidia is said to have given him the surname Chrysologus (Golden Word), by which he is known, and became the patroness of many of his projects. He spoke against the Arian and Monophysite teachings, condemning them as heresies, and explained topics such as the Apostles’ Creed, John the Baptist, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the mystery of the Incarnation, in simple and clear language. Peter advocated daily reception of Holy Communion, and urged his listeners to have confidence in the forgiveness offered through Christ. He was a counselor of Pope Leo I. The monophysite Eutyches appealed to Peter to intervene with the pope on his behalf after he was denounced at a synod held in Constantinople in 448. The text of Peter’s letter in response to Eutyches has been preserved in the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon; in it, Peter admonishes Eutyches to accept the ruling of the synod and to give obedience to the Bishop of Rome as the successor of Saint Peter. In the eighth century Felix of Ravenna preserved 176 of his homilies. When in 1729 he was declared a Doctor of the Church, his feast day, which was not included in the Tridentine Calendar, was inserted in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints for celebration on December 4. In 1969 his feast was moved to July 30, as close as possible to the day of his death, July 31, which is occupied by the feast day of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.  And today is International Friendship Day. There was a Friendship Day proposed in 1930 by the American greeting card industry, but it soon died out. The idea of a World Friendship Day was first proposed on July 20th, 1958 by Dr. Ramon Artemio Bracho during a dinner with friends in Puerto Pinasco, a town on the River Paraguay about 200 miles north of Asuncion, Paraguay. Out of this humble meeting of friends, the World Friendship Crusade was born, a foundation that promotes friendship and fellowship among all human beings, regardless of race, color or religion. Since then, July 30th has been faithfully celebrated as Friendship Day in Paraguay every year and has also been adopted by several other countries. The World Friendship Crusade lobbied the United Nations for many years to recognise July 30th as World Friendship Day; finally, in 2011, the General Assembly of the United Nations decided to designate July 30th as the International Day of Friendship, and to invite all Member States to observe the International Day of Friendship in accordance with the culture and customs of their local, national and regional communities, including through education and public awareness-raising activities. And today is (or was) the Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower, in the predawn sky to the south.

I had gotten both a text message and an Email from American Express Blue, about a strange charge on our account that was denied; I put off considering it until later, as I was more than a little concerned that the text message and / or Email might be bogus phishing attempts to get into my American Express Blue account. I posted to Facebook that today was International Friendship Day, and did my Book Devotional Reading. We stopped by the ATM for cash on our way to work, and I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Third Day of my Transfiguration Novena. (We were running a bit later than usual, so I did not look for any Delta Aquarid meteors.) After the Pre-Shift Meeting, Richard was on Mississippi Stud all day, and I was the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat and for Pai Gow (also, for the second Pai Gow table once, at the beginning of the shift, before they closed it.) On my last break I found I had missed a call from American Express Blue, which went to voice mail, asking me to call back, or to call the number on the back of my card. I called the number on the back of the card, and talked to a live person; a charge had indeed been attempted against my account by IpVanish.com in the amount of $77.99, which was denied by American Express. They will cancel out my old card, and send me a new card with a new account number, which I should receive along about Wednesday.

When we got home I set up my medications for next week (I have three prescriptions to renew on Monday); I then read the morning paper and ate my lunch salad while Richard paid bills. He then moved the truck, and I headed off to the Adoration Chapel for my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. During my Hour Richard finished paying the bills and headed off to Wal-Mart to do the grocery shopping, and I continued reading Julian’s Gospel: Illuminating the Life & Revelations of Julian of Norwich by Veronica Mary Rolf. When I finished my Hour I ran the car through the car wash, and headed home. Richard was not home yet, but appeared with the groceries while I was plugging the bills he had paid into my Checkbook Pro account. And now I am going to get ready to go to bed for the duration.

Tomorrow is the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest (died 1556), and the Remembrance of Venerable Solamus Casey, Priest (died 1957). Tomorrow is also Lamma Eve, and the birthdays of the literary characters Juliet Capulet and Harry Potter. Richard and I will return to the casino to deal cards to rich drunk Texans (and I treasure all of them, because without them, I would be asking “And would you like fries with that order?”). After lunch I will make my lunch salads for Monday and Tuesday, then do my Daily Update and hit the hay early.

Our Saturday Afternoon Parting Quote comes to us from Robert N. Bellah, American sociologist. Born as Robert Neelly Bellah in 1927 in Altus, Oklahoma, after his father died in 1929 his mother moved him to Los Angeles, California. He edited his high school newspaper with the girl who later became his wife in 1948, after she graduated from Stanford and after he completed military service and began attending Harvard University in 1946. While an undergraduate at Harvard, he was a member of the Communist Party USA in 1947 – 1949 and a chairman of the John Reed Club, a recognized student organization concerned with the study of Marxism. Receiving his BA in 1950 and beginning his graduate work in sociology, he was a student of Talcott Parsons, a sociologist at Harvard, who was specially interested in Bellah’s concept of religious evolution and the concept of Civil Religion. During the summer of 1954, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard, McGeorge Bundy, who later served as a national security adviser to John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, threatened to withdraw Bellah’s graduate student fellowship if he did not provide the names of his former John Reed club associates. Bellah was also interrogated by the Boston office of the FBI with the same purpose. As a result of refusing to comply, Bellah lost his fellowship, but earned his PhD in sociology and Far Eastern languages at Harvard in 1955; his dissertation, published in 1957 as Tokugawa Religion: The Values of Pre-Industrial Japan, remains a widely influential study of Japanese belief. He did postdoctoral work in Islamic studies at McGill University in Montreal before returning to Harvard to teach sociology in 1957. He was fluent in Japanese and literate in Chinese, French and German. Bellard’s first book was Religion and Progress in Modern Asia (1965), followed by other sociological works. His Harvard mentor Parsons encouraged him to write a paper for a conference on American religion in 1966. The paper, “Civil Religion in America”, was published the next year in the journal Daedalus and became Bellah’s most frequently reprinted article. The provocative paper argued that a central feature of the American political tradition was the belief in God as a higher authority over the nation. He joined the Berkeley faculty in 1967. In 1973, after he had been named to a professorship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., many of the institute’s faculty, whose members were overwhelmingly scientists and mathematicians, called his scholarly credentials into question, apparently because in the ardently secular canon of the hard sciences, religion was deemed an insufficiently rigorous subject for scholarly scrutiny. Professor Bellah renounced the appointment and remained at Berkeley. He began work on Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (1985), written with Richard Madsen, William M. Sullivan and Professors Swidler and Tipton. The book, of which Professor Bellah was the lead author, took its title from a phrase in Alexis de Tocqueville’s influential mid-19th-century work Democracy in America. The book was based on its authors’ detailed surveys of middle-class Americans, sought to illuminate the role of belief in contemporary culture. To their consternation, the authors found that Americans were concerned increasingly with individual attainment and far less with forging the collective ties that had traditionally bound communities. The book became popular outside of sociological circles; by the end of its first decade in print, it had sold close to 500,000 copies. Among the book’s claims to fame is an expression that lit the imagination of a generation of religion scholars: “Sheilaism.” The term was derived from the pseudonymous Sheila, the name Bellah and his collaborators gave to a non-churchgoing believer in God who had invented a belief system so private and personal that she described it as “Sheilaism. Just my own little voice.” Sheila became a symbol of the individualism that many spiritual leaders cited as a major reason behind the decline of organized religion. Bellard retired from Berkeley in 1997 after thirty years of work. His magnum opus, Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age (2011), traced the biological and cultural origins of religion and the interplay between the two (died 2013): “I know from personal experience that Harvard did some terribly wrong things during the McCarthy period and that those things have never been publicly acknowledged. At its worst it came close to psychological terror against almost defenseless individuals. …The university and the secret police were in collusion to suppress political dissent and even to persecute dissenters who had changed their minds if they were not willing to become part of the persecution.”

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