Daily Update: Friday, September 23rd, 2016

Pio of Pietrelcina and Ember Days and 09-23 - Republic of West Florida

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, Priest, known to the faithful as Padre Pio (died 1968), and the second of three Ember Days for this season of the year. Today is also the date of the formation of the Republic of West Florida in 1810.

Today’s Saint was born in 1887 at Pietrelcina, Benevento, Italy as Francesco Forgione. At age 15 he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin friars in Morcone, Italy and joined the order at age 19. He suffered several health problems, and at one point his family thought he had tuberculosis, but he persevered, and was ordained at age 22 in 1910. While praying before a cross, he received the stigmata on September 20th, 1918, the first priest ever to be so blessed. It was reputed that his condition caused him great embarrassment, and most photographs show him with red mittens or black coverings on his hands and feet where the bleedings occurred. As word spread, especially after American soldiers brought home stories of Padre Pio following World War II, the priest himself became a point of pilgrimage for both the pious and the curious. He would hear confessions by the hour, and was reportedly able to read the consciences of those who held back. He was also reportedly able to bilocate, levitate, and heal by touch. In the 1920s he started a series of prayer groups that continue today with over 400,000 members worldwide. He founded the House for the Relief of Suffering in 1956, a hospital that serves 60,000 a year. He is a relatively recent Saint, having been canonized in 2002; he is the Patron Saint of civil defense volunteers and of adolescents. Today is the second of three Ember Days for this season of the year. Ember days (a corruption from the Latin Quatuor Tempora, four times) are the days at the beginning of the seasons ordered by the Church as days of fast and abstinence. They were definitely arranged and prescribed for the entire Church by Pope Gregory VII (1073 – 1085) for the consecutive Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after December 13th (the feast of Saint Lucy), after Ash Wednesday, after Whitsunday (Pentecost), and after September 14th (The Exaltation of the Cross). The purpose of their introduction, besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy. And today is the anniversary of the formation of the Republic of West Florida in 1810. The portion of land from the Perdido River (the current western boundary of Florida) and the Mississippi River, and from 31° North to the Gulf of Mexico, languished in a political no-mans-land after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The Republic was thus formed, with its capital in St. Francisville (now in Louisiana), and with a flag designed by Melissa Johnson, wife of Major Isaac Johnson, the commander of the West Florida Dragoons. The United States summarily annexed the land ninety days later. To this day the parishes of Louisiana south of 31° North and east of the Mississippi River are known as the Florida Parishes; and I can attest (having lived for some years in Slidell, Louisiana) that the Florida Parishes are culturally more in tune with the coastal counties of Mississippi and of Alabama than they are with the rest of Louisiana.

I did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Second Day of my Novena to Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus. When we clocked in at the casino, Richard was on Pai Gow, and I was on Mini Baccarat. The Last Quarter Moon arrived at 4:59 am. On my breaks I continued reading The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith via Overdrive on my tablet. Since I will not have a chance to use the Early Out ticket that Deborah gave me before it expires on October 17th, I gave it back to her. I put in to take Tuesday, December 20th, 2016 off, and on getting with both the Table Games Scheduler and our Shift Manager, we established that we will get the whole period from November 4th through November 22nd off for our vacation, including the Carvember Promotion Saturdays. (Our Shift Manager suggested that we fly back to work on the Saturdays; I allowed that doing so was indeed an option, but not one I wished to take.)

When we got home I read the morning paper and ate my lunch salad. I then got on the computer to do today’s Daily Update; I will do this Daily Update early, do some reading, and go to bed for the duration.

We have no Saints to honor for a few days, although tomorrow is the third of three Ember Days for this season of the year, but tomorrow is National Punctuation Day, and tomorrow is the anniversary of when Hurricane Rita made landfall in 2005. We will work our eight hours at the casino, and on my breaks I will continue reading The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith via Overdrive on my tablet. When we get home from work Richard will pay bills, then head to Wal-Mart; I will eat lunch, then head to the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. After my Hour I will go over to the St. Thomas More Fall Festival and play bingo until about 4:30 pm; I will then come home to watch the college football game between our #18 ranked LSU Tigers and the Auburn Tigers at Auburn; since I doubt I will stay up for the whole game, I will post the score of the game in Sunday’s Daily Update.

Our Parting Quote on this Friday afternoon comes to us from Ruth Patrick, American botanist and limnologist. Born in 1907 in Topeka, Kansas, her father was a banker and lawyer and hobby scientist  with a degree in botany from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He often took his daughters on Sunday afternoons to collect specimens, especially diatoms, from streams. Patrick attended the Sunset Hill School in Kansas City, Missouri, graduating in 1925. Her mother insisted that she attend Coker College, a women’s school in Hartsville, South Carolina, but her father arranged for her to attend summer courses at Cornell, through fear that Coker College would not provide satisfactory education in the sciences. When she graduated in 1929, she then enrolled in the University of Virginia, earning a master’s degree in 1931, the same year she married her first husband, followed by a Ph.D. in 1934. She began her association with the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which had the best collection of diatoms in America, as a graduate student in 1933. Her father convinced her to keep her maiden name in her professional life, and she is denoted by the author abbreviation R. M. Patrick when citing a botanical name. In 1937 she became an assistant curator of microscopy, an unpaid position. She was also advised not to wear lipstick to work. Only in 1945 was she put on the payroll, and two years later she established the limnology department, now called the Patrick Center for Environmental Research. Her breakthrough came in 1948, when she led a study of Conestoga Creek in Lancaster County, Pa., to obtain data on the relationship between diatoms and water quality. The creek was chosen because it suffered from many types of pollution, including sewage, fertilizer runoff, toxic substances and metals from industry. Her team, including a chemist, a bacteriologist, and animal and plant experts, determined the types of pollutants in sections of the river and then identified the plant and animal species. Patrick found that some species of diatoms thrived in water that was heavily contaminated with organic material like human sewage, while other flourished among chemical pollution. Refining this finding, she was able to examine a sample of stream water under a microscope, determine the type and numbers of diatoms present, and tell what kind of pollution was present and how severe it was. To check the number and types of diatoms, Patrick invented a device called the diatometer, a plastic box containing microscope slides that when strategically placed in a stream collects the maximum number of the organisms. More broadly, her results showed that under healthy conditions, many species of organisms representing different groups should be present. Patrick’s research in fossilized diatoms showed that the Great Dismal Swamp between Virginia and North Carolina was once a forest, which had been flooded by seawater. Similar research proved that the Great Salt Lake was not always a saline lake. Patrick taught at the University of Pennsylvania for more than 35 years. She wrote more than 200 scientific articles and was the author or co-author of a number of books, including Diatoms of the United States, Groundwater Contamination in the United States and Rivers of the United States. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1970. She was the chairwoman of the limnology department at the Academy of Natural Sciences until 1973, when she was named to the Francis Boyer chair of limnology. From 1973 to 1976 she was chairwoman of the academy’s board. Patrick believed it essential that government and industry collaborate in curbing pollution and was a consultant to both in developing environmental policy. In 1975 she became the first woman and the first environmentalist to serve on the DuPont Company board of directors; she was also on the board of the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company. That same year she received the $150,000 John and Alice Tyler Ecology Award, then the world’s richest prize for scientific achievement. She advised President Lyndon B. Johnson on water pollution and President Ronald Reagan on acid rain and served on pollution and water-quality panels at the National Academy of Sciences and the Interior Department, among others. Her first husband died in 1985. Patrick received the National Medal of Science from President Bill Clinton in 1996. In 1998 the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography initiated an annual Ruth Patrick Award “to honor outstanding research by a scientist in the application of basic aquatic science principles to the identification, analysis and/or solution of important environmental problems.” Her second husband died in 2004. On November 17th, 2007, a gala was held in honor of Patrick’s upcoming 100th birthday at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, PA. Notable guests included Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell. She died at the age of 105 (died 2013): “My great aim has been to be able to diagnose the presence of pollution and develop means of cleaning things up.”

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