Daily Update: Saturday, September 17th, 2016

Hildegard von Bingen and Robert Bellarmine

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Hildegard von Bingen, Virgin and Doctor (died 1179) and the Memorial of Saint Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor (died 1621). And today is normally Constitution Day, but the Observance of that date was moved this year to Friday, September 16th.

Our first Saint was born in 1098 in Germersheim, Rhineland Palatinate (modern Germany), as the tenth child born to a noble family, and as such was dedicated at birth to the Church. The girl started to have visions of luminous objects at the age of three but soon realized she was unique in this ability and hid this gift for many years. At age eight her family sent her to an anchoress named Jutta to receive a religious education. After Jutta’s death, when Hildegard was 38 years of age, she was elected the head of the budding convent that had grown up around the anchorage. In 1141 a vision of God gave Hildegard instant understanding of the meaning of religious texts, and He commanded her to write down everything she would observe in her visions. Though she never doubted the divine origin of her visions, Hildegard wanted them to be approved by the Church. She wrote to Saint Bernard, who took the matter to Pope Eugenius, who exhorted Hildegard to finish her writings. With papal imprimatur, Hildegard finished her first visionary work Scivias (”Know the Ways of the Lord“) and her fame began to spread through Germany and beyond. At a time when few women wrote, Hildegard produced major works of theology, visionary writings, and original musical compositions, which were performed by the nuns at her convent. Hildegard was one of the first persons for whom the canonization process was officially applied, but the process took so long that four attempts at canonization were not completed, and she remained at the level of her beatification for the next eight hundred years. On May 12th, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI extended the liturgical cult of St. Hildegard to the entire Catholic Church in a process known as “equivalent canonization,” thus laying the groundwork for naming her a Doctor of the Church, which he did on October 7th, 2012. making her the fourth woman of 35 saints given that title by the Roman Catholic Church. We also honor Saint Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor (died 1621). Born in 1542 in Montepulciano, Tuscany, as Roberto Francesco Romolo, his was a family of impoverished nobles, and his mother was a niece of Pope Marcellus II. Educated by the Jesuits as a boy, he joined the Jesuits in 1560 over the opposition of his father who wanted his son to enter politics. He took studies in Rome, Florence, Mondovi, Padua, and Flanders before being ordained on Palm Sunday 1570 in Ghent, Belgium. Professor of theology at the University of Louvain from 1570 to 1576, at the request of Pope Gregory XIII, he taught polemical theology at the Collegio Romano from 1576 to 1587. While there he wrote Disputationes de Controversiis Christianae Fidei adversus hujus temporis Haereticos, the most complete work of the day to defend Catholicism against Protestant attack. Spiritual director of the Roman College from 1588, he was the confessor of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga until his death, and then worked for the boy’s canonization. In 1590 he worked in France to defend the interests of the Church during a period of turmoil and conflict. Created Cardinal-priest in 1598 by Pope Clement VIII, he lived an austere life in Rome, giving most of his money to the poor. At one point he used the tapestries in his living quarters to clothe the poor, saying that “the walls won’t catch cold.” He was made Archbishop of Capua, Italy in 1602, and was involved in the controversy between King James I and the Vatican in 1607 and 1609 concerning control of the Church in England. He wrote Tractatus de potestate Summi Pontificis in rebus temporalibus adversus Gulielmum Barclaeum in opposition to Gallicanism. He opposed action against Galileo Galilei in 1615, and established a friendly correspondence with him, but was forced to deliver the order for the scientist to submit to the Church. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1931, and is the Patron Saint of catechists, catechumens, and canonists and canon lawyers, of Bellarmine University in Kentucky, of Fairfield University in Connecticut, and of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio.

I did my Book Devotional Reading, brought in the flag I had put out for Constitution Day and National POW/MIA Recognition Day, and put out my LSU flag. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Once at the casino I sent a text to Liz Ellen about when she will be down for Christmas. At the Pre-Shift Meeting, Deborah won a Golden Ticket, which she gave to me. When we went out onto the casino floor, I was on Mini Baccarat, and Richard was the relief dealer for the Sit-Down Blackjack table, another Blackjack table, and Three Card Blackjack. On my breaks I continued reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler via Overdrive on my tablet until I got to a good stopping point. Meanwhile, Richard became the relief dealer for Pai Gow, Mini Baccarat, and Macau Mini Baccarat (until they closed the Macau Mini Baccarat table when it went dead). 

On our way home Richard stopped at the bakery to get a loaf of French bread. Once home I set up my medications for next week (I have one prescription to renew on Monday, and one OTC vitamin to purchase on my next trip to Wal-Mart). I then read the morning paper and ate my lunch salad. I then went to the Adoration Chapel for my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration, where I finished reading the August 29th – September 5th, 2016 issue of my Jesuit America magazine. When I got home Richard was already sleeping, so I joined him in bed, waking up at 5:30 pm. And I will now finish this Daily Update, then I will go watch our #20 ranked LSU Tigers (0-1, 0-0) play their home College Football Game with the Mississippi State Bulldogs (1-1, 1-0) and eat the spaghetti and garlic bread prepared by Richard for our dinner; I will post the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. We have no Saints to honor tomorrow, so instead we will note that tomorrow is the anniversary of my successful Colon Cancer Surgery in 2001. Tomorrow is the last day of the two week pay period at the casino, and we will work our eight hours. On my breaks I will continue reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler via Overdrive on my tablet, and read half of what I have left of the book. After lunch I will watch a bit of the NFL game between the New Orleans Saints (0-1, 0-0) vs the New York Giants (1-0, 1-0) at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, then do my Daily Update and go to bed; I will record the score of the game in Monday’s Daily Update.

Our Parting Quote this Saturday afternoon comes to us from David Willcocks, British choral conductor, organist, composer and music administrator. Born in 1919 in Newquay, Cornwall, Willcocks began his musical training as a chorister at Westminster Abbey from 1929 to 1934. From 1934 to 1938, he was a music scholar at Clifton College, Bristol, before his appointment as organ scholar at King’s College, Cambridge. There, in 1939, he met David Briggs, a choral scholar (bass). With the outbreak of the Second World War, Willcocks interrupted his studies in music to serve in the British Army. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry (DCLI) on February 15th, 1941, and was awarded the Military Cross as a temporary captain for his actions during the Battle of Normandy on the night of July 10th/11th 1944, when he was serving with the 5th Battalion, DCLI as battalion intelligence officer. The battalion, part of the 214th Infantry Brigade of the 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division, was ordered to hold Hill 112 in Normandy, France, as part of Operation Epsom. He carried out his duties outstandingly overnight, helping inflict severe casualties on the German forces by calling in artillery support to break up counter-attacks. The battalion suffered over 250 casualties during the night, including the commanding officer and one of the company commanders. This left Willcocks in command of the battalion headquarters, which by then was the furthest forward part of the battalion. He rallied the men, enabling the battalion to stand firm and reorganise. The award was gazetted on December 21st, 1944. Willcocks returned to Cambridge in 1945 to complete his studies, and in 1947 was elected a Fellow of King’s College and appointed Conductor of the Cambridge Philharmonic Society. In the same year, he became the organist at Salisbury Cathedral and the conductor of the Salisbury Musical Society. He moved to Worcester Cathedral in 1950 and remained until 1957, during which time he was organist of the Cathedral, principal conductor of the Three Choirs Festival in 1951, 1954, and 1957, and conductor of the City of Birmingham Choir. From 1956 to 1974 he was also conductor of the Bradford Festival Choral Society, whilst continuing as guest conductor for their carol concerts into the early 1990s. Composers with whom he collaborated included Vaughan Williams, Britten, Howells and Tippett. From 1957 to 1974 he held the post for which he is probably best known, Director of Music at King’s College, Cambridge (where his old friend Briggs was Master of the Choristers). He made numerous recordings with the college choir. (Among the most notable recordings was one of Thomas Tallis’s Spem in alium, made in 1965.) The choir toured extensively, giving concerts worldwide, as well as garnering further acclaim internationally through television and radio appearances. Under the baton of Willcocks, Cambridge University Musical Society performed Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in 1963 in (Perugia) Milan, La Scala, and in Venice. The choir subsequently performed the work in Japan, Hong Kong, Portugal, and the Netherlands. In 1960 he also became the musical director of the Bach Choir in London. He held these positions at Cambridge until the 1970s when he accepted the post of Director of the Royal College of Music. Willcocks conducted his London Bach Choir for the studio recording of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones in 1968. He made recordings with the (London) Bach Choir, the English Chamber Orchestra, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the Jacques Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra as well as with the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, with whom he regularly conducted the Nine Lessons and Carols service on Christmas Eve, broadcast by the BBC every year since 1931. With The Bach Choir, in particular he recorded works by Johann Sebastian Bach, especially his motets and, sung in English, his St John Passion and a stately rendition of the St Matthew Passion, a piece he regularly conducted for broadcast Easter performances. He also served as general editor of the Church Music series of the Oxford University Press. During his years at King’s, an early and frequently reissued recording of the Allegri Miserere was made in March 1963 by the choir, conducted by Willcocks, and featuring a 12-year old named Roy Goodman, later a distinguished conductor, as the treble soloist. He was particularly known for his widely used choral arrangements of Christmas carols, many of which were originally written or arranged for the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s and/or the Bach Choir’s Christmas concerts. They are published in the five Carols for Choirs anthologies (1961–1987), edited by Willcocks with Reginald Jacques (first volume) or John Rutter. The descant arrangements in particular are among the most famous and well-loved musical components. He was Music Director Emeritus of King’s College Choir, and an Honorary Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. In the 1971 Queen’s Birthday Honours, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), and was created a Knight Bachelor in 1977 in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Honours. He held honorary degrees in England from the Universities of Bradford, Bristol, Exeter, Leicester, and Sussex, and from the Royal College of Music in London; in the United States from Luther College (Iowa), St. Olaf College (Minnesota), Rowan University and Westminster Choir College (New Jersey); and in Canada from the Universities of Trinity College, Toronto, and Victoria B.C. All in all, his honorary degrees numbered over fifty. He was also President of the City of Bath Bach Choir and Exeter Festival Chorus. For the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer, Willcocks served as director of music and conducted a new piece by William Mathias. The event was watched by an estimated global TV audience of 750 million. After stepping down from the Royal College, Willcocks resumed conducting and editing scores as his primary activities. A New York Times profile from 1990 noted that he had made nine visits to the United States in the previous year, including conducting Evensong at that city’s Episcopalian St. Thomas Church and conducting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. In live performance, he regularly conducted Mozart’s Requiem at the Mostly Mozart festival in New York. On May 15th, 2010, a celebration of his contribution to music took place at the Royal Albert Hall in London, where pieces selected by Willcocks were performed by singers who were part of the Really Big Chorus. Special guests included choristers from King’s College Choir, Cambridge, who performed three pieces. An Annabell Ridley portrait of Sir David was auctioned in aid of the British Heart Foundation. A notable broadcast took place on BBC Radio 4 on September 21st, 2010 in a series called Soul Music, when Willcocks profiled Fauré’s Requiem. The programme included his memories of the fighting at Hill 112. The profile also featured Christina, widow of Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid, a British Army bomb disposal expert (Ammunition Technician) who was killed in action in the Afghanistan conflict. Willcocks questioned the morality of war during the programme (died 2015): “I hope that people will realize that the greatest joy comes from actually making music, rather than listening to others performing.  Then the pleasure from listening to others would be enhanced if one’s actually had a go oneself at it.  Some of the happiest people I’ve known have been people who sing in choirs or play in orchestras because they experience the thrill of making music in company with others and sharing the deep experience.”

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