Daily Update: Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Louis, King of France and Joseph Calasanz

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Louis, King (died 1270) and the Optional Memorial of Saint Joseph Calasanz, Priest (died 1648).

Born in 1214 in Poissy, France, Louis was the son of King Louis VIII and Blanche of Castile. In 1226, at the death of his father, he became King of France and Count of Artois at the age of eleven, being crowned king within the month at Rheims cathedral; his mother ruled as regent until he reached 22, and then he reigned on his own for a further 33 years. He married Marguerite of Provence, whose sister Eleanor was the wife of Henry III of England, at age 19, and was the father of eleven children. Louis IX took very seriously his mission as “lieutenant of God on Earth”, with which he had been invested when he was crowned in Rheims. He made numerous judicial and legislative reforms, promoted Christianity in France, established religious foundations, aided mendicant orders, propagated synodal decrees of the Church, built leper hospitals, and collected relics.  In 1248 he went on the Seventh Crusade, and was captured by the Egyptian forces, but eventually ransomed. Following his release from Egyptian captivity, Louis spent four years in the Crusader kingdoms of Acre, Caesarea, and Jaffa. Louis used his wealth to assist the Crusaders in rebuilding their defenses and conducting diplomacy with the Islamic powers of Syria and Egypt. Upon his departure from the Middle East, Louis left a significant garrison in the city of Acre for its defense against Islamic attacks. Louis’ patronage of the arts drove much innovation in Gothic art and architecture, and the style of his court radiated throughout Europe by both the purchase of art objects from Parisian masters for export and by the marriage of the king’s daughters and female relatives to foreign husbands and their subsequent introduction of Parisian models elsewhere. He went on the Eighth Crusade in 1270, and died in Tunis. He was canonized in 1297 by Pope Boniface VIII, the only French king to be declared a Saint; he is the Patron Saint of crusaders, of prisoners, and of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Louisiana, and Co-Patron Saint of the Third Order of St. Francis (with Saint Elisabeth of Hungary). We also honor Saint Joseph Calasanz, Priest (died 1648). Born in 1556 in Peralta, Barbastro, Aragon, Spain, he was the youngest of five children in a noble family. He studied at Estadilla, at the University of Lleida, at Valencia, and at Alcala de Henares, and obtained degrees in canon law and theology. His father wanted his son to become a soldier, to marry, and to continue the family name, but a near fatal illness in 1582 caused the young man to seriously examine his life, and he realized a call to the religious life. Ordained in 1583, he became the parish priest of Albarracin. He also served as secretary and confessor to his bishop, as a synodal examiner, and as a procurator, and revived religious zeal among the laity and discipline among the clergy in his section of the Pyrenees. Both his bishop and his father died in 1587. Following a vision, he gave away much of his inheritance, renounced most of the rest, and traveled to Rome, Italy in 1592, where he worked in the household of Cardinal Ascanio Colonna as theological advisor for the cardinal and as tutor to the cardinal’s nephew. He worked with plague victims in 1595. Becoming a member of the Confraternity for Christian Doctrine, he tried to get poor children, many of them orphans and/or homeless, into school. The teachers, already poorly paid, refused to work with the new students without a raise; in November 1597, Joseph and two fellow priests opened a small, free school for poor children. Pope Clement VIII, and later Pope Paul V, contributed toward their work. He was soon supervising several teachers and hundreds of students. In 1602 the school moved to larger quarters, and Joseph reorganized the teaching priests into a community. In 1612 they moved to the Torres palace to have even more room. In 1621 the community was recognized as a religious order called Le Scuole Pie (Religious Schools), also known as the Piarists, or Scopolii, or the Ordo Clericorum Regularium Pauperum Matris Dei Scholarum Piarum (Order of Poor Clerks Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools); Joseph acted as superior of the Order. The community encountered many obstacles; Joseph’s friendship with the astronomer Galileo Galilei caused a stir with some Church officials. Some of the ruling class objected that to educate the poor would cause social unrest. Other Orders that worked with the poor were afraid they would be absorbed by the Piarists. But they group continued to have papal support, and continued to do good work. In his old age, Joseph suffered through seeing his Order torn apart. He was accused of incompetence by Father Mario Sozzi, who was chosen as new superior of the Order. Sozzi died in 1643, and was replaced by Father Cherubini who pursued the same course as Sozzi, and nearly destroyed the Order. A papal commission charged with examining the Order acquitted Joseph of all accusations, and in 1645, returned him to superior of the Order, but internal dissent continued, and in 1646 Pope Innocent X dissolved the Order, placing the priests under control of their local bishops. The Piarists were reorganized in 1656, eight years after Joseph’s death. They were restored as a religious order in 1669, and continue their good work today. He was canonized in 1767 and is the Patron Saint of Catholic Schools.

Last night while taking my bath I finished reading the June 2016 issue of National Geographic. (Yes, I am behind on my magazine reading, my book reading, and just about everything else I can think of.) And the Last Quarter Moon arrived at 10:44 pm.

I woke up at 7:45 am, did my Book Devotional Reading, and ate my breakfast toast while reading the Thursday papers. I then did my Internet Devotional Reading. Then, I started sorting the books in the very untidy pile next to the desk; for my non-fiction books, that meant figuring out the Dewey Decimal Number for each book. Some books had it already, and for the ones that did not I had to look them up on the Library of Congress catalog online and/or the New York Public Library catalog online. I had two books that I could not get the DDN for love nor money, and I elected to toss those books in the pile to give away. I then filed the Fiction books in the Library (formerly my son’s bedroom), piled my Religion books (DDN 200-299) in one of the empty bookcases in the Dining Room (for now), and put the Non Fiction (Not Religion) books in a box on the dining room table (for now). I then called my Ob/Gyn’s office about the status of my biopsy; I was told that they had received the results but that the doctor had not reviewed the results yet, and that they would call me when he did so, I called my person in Texas about the lab bill we do not owe (that call went to voicemail), and sent a text to Nedra asking how things are with her. I then redid a couple of my Advance Daily Update Drafts; I decided to include all of the Fourteen Holy Helper saints in my weblog, and two of the more obscure of them are in September. (One of them is so obscure that his feast day was dropped by the Church; but I will keep him in my Weblog, because, well, it’s my Weblog, and I can do whatever I want here. (My Four or Five Loyal Readers and my Army of Followers can attest that it’s not quite an Anarchist’s Picnic here; I do maintain a certain structure.)

At 12:45 pm I left the house in my car and headed west towards the Casino and the Clinic; along the way I got my lunch via the drive through window at McDonald’s. At 2:00 pm I had my appointment with the Renal Physician at the Clinic; he is the new broom, and took down my whole history of medications, vitamins, procedures, operations, and family history. He then alarmed me by asking, “So how long have you been a diabetic?” I asserted that I am NOT diabetic – the Medical Powers that Be are just tracking my blood sugar and renal functions.  I then had a mini-appointment with the Renal Physician’s nurse, whose apparent function is to translate doctor-speak into normal language. He asked me, “Did the Doctor tell you that you have 45% renal function?” The good Doctor did not tell me that, but the nurse told me that 45% is not bad per se, it just means that I need to be watched (which is what they are doing). The Nurse said his function is to make sure that people do not slide into ESRD before they know what hit them; I am all for that, as Mom was on dialysis for about five years before she died. The basic takeaway is that I need to cut down on liquids (and add more water to the nearly 100% Diet Coke intake), and to watch the proteins I eat (citrus, tomatoes, potatoes, etc.)

I left the Clinic at 3:00 pm, and headed homeward, driving through a thunderstorm. At Wal-Mart I got my salad supplies, a house charger and cords for Richard’s phone, and a new cat auto decal to replace the one on the right back window (which I had put on the outside of the window, and it’s been trying to peel off). On my way home from Wal-Mart Richard called me on the phone, and I told him I was almost home. I got home at 4:00 pm, and Richard told me that Michelle had come by with a check to pay for the latest round of service for her car at the auto garage (which we pay for). I made my lunch salads for Saturday and Sunday, then watched Jeopardy! at 4:30 pm while the thunderstorm I had gone through on my way home arrived at our house. I am now doing this Daily Update, and when I finish I will get ready to go to bed.

Tomorrow we have no Saints upon the calendar, so instead we will note that tomorrow is Women’s Equality Day, and recall that tomorrow is the anniversary of when Hurricane Andrew made landfall, not in Florida (which it did, a few days earlier), but in Louisiana in 1992. And tomorrow is the birthday of Richard’s grandniece Alyssa, the granddaughter of his brother Slug here in town (1991). Richard and I will return to the casino for the start of our work week, and on my breaks I will make phone calls and read magazines. On our way home from work I will get my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for Saturday night’s drawing. After lunch I will start the next part of my Books Filing Project, which is to remove the stuff that is in the built-in bookcases that is not books and put said stuff in the Barrister Bookcase; since there are books in the Barrister Bookcase, which I want to put in the Built-In Bookcases, this will call for the temporary use of one of the small empty bookcases in the dining room. And tomorrow evening our New Orleans Saints will play their third Pre-Season NFL game at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers; I will record the score of the game in Saturday’s Daily Update.

This Thursday afternoon brings us a Parting Quote from Dr. James “Red” Duke, trauma surgeon and professor. Born in Ennis, Texas, he was given the nickname “Red” because of his curly red hair. After graduating from high school he earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M University in 1950. He served as a yell leader at Texas A&M and was the first person to deliver the poem “The Last Corps Trip” publicly. He served a two-year tour of duty as a tank officer in the 2nd Armored Division of the U.S. Army and then earned a divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1955. After reading a book by Albert Schweitzer he changed vocations to medicine and enrolled in the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, from which he received his M.D. in 1960. Duke completed his internship in internal medicine and his residency in general surgery at Dallas’ Parkland Memorial Hospital in 1965. During his residency, Duke was the first surgeon to receive President John F. Kennedy at Parkland after he was shot in Dallas in 1963, then attended to the wounds of then Texas Governor John Connally. Duke’s academic career began in 1966 as an assistant professor of surgery at UT Southwestern Medical School and later at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. He also took some time to pursue graduate studies in chemical engineering, biochemistry and computer sciences at Columbia University under the auspices of an NIH Special Fellowship. While Duke was an assistant professor of surgery in New York, he spent two years from 1970 to 1972 in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, as a visiting professor and later chairman of surgery at Nangarhar University School of Medicine. After returning from Afghanistan, Duke joined the faculty of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, where he was a professor of surgery. Among his many responsibilities, Duke served as special assistant to the president of the UT Health Science Center and held one of the distinguished professorships at the UT Medical School as the John B. Holmes Professor of Clinical Sciences. He established Houston’s Hermann Hospital Life Flight operations in 1976 and helped establish its trauma and emergency services, of which he served as director. In the 1980s he was a representation to the Texas State Legislature and was instrumental in getting that state’s mandatory seat-belt law passed. Duke was a founding member of the American Trauma Society and was an Advanced Trauma Life Support instructor for the American College of Surgeons. He was named Surgeon of the Year by the James F. Mitchell Foundation in 1988. Duke’s efforts to educate the public in health issues and tireless work as a crusader against trauma brought him into serious consideration for the position of Surgeon General of the United States in 1989. Duke was also noted outside the medical community. He attained the rank of Eagle Scout, and the Boy Scouts of America honored him with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. As founder and past president of the Texas Bighorn Society, Duke was a major supporter of many wildlife conservation groups. He served as president of the Boone and Crockett Club, the oldest conservation organization in the United States, and the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep. Duke was also one of the most recognized television personalities in his field, as determined by the Gallup Organization. He was the former host of the nationally syndicated Texas Health Reports and hosted the former PBS series Bodywatch, which educated millions about various health-related topics. He was well-recognized for his distinctive Texan accent, ever-present large mustache and “Duke-isms” (like his popular segment sign-off “For your health!”). Duke was featured on PM Magazine, NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, and the Buck James television series, which was based on him. The University of Texas Medical School at Houston Department of Surgery sponsored a scholarship fund in honor of Duke, aimed towards students wishing to research and train in the field of trauma (died 2015): “Being sick is a real drag. But having a doctor who doesn’t care or doesn’t listen is worse.”

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