Daily Update: Monday, September 26th, 2016

Cosmas and Damian and Paul VI and Banned Books Week 2016

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian, Martyrs (died about 303) and the Optional Memorial of Blessed Paul VI, Pope (died 1978). Banned Books Week continues, and today is the birthday of Richard’s niece Leah, the daughter of his sister Susan in Iowa (1977).

Today’s first two Saints were born in the third century, either in Arabia or of Arabian descent. Cosmas and Damian were twin brothers who were trained as physicians in Syria. The brothers accepted no payment for their services, and their charity brought many to Christ. Legend holds that they miraculously replaced the ulcerated leg of a man named Justinian with one from a recently deceased Ethiopian man. During the persecution under Diocletian, Cosmas and Damian were arrested by order of the Prefect of Cilicia, one Lysias (who is otherwise unknown), who ordered them under torture to recant their Christianity. However, according to legend, they stayed true to their faith, enduring being hung on a cross, stoned and shot by arrows and finally suffered execution by beheading. Many fables grew up about the brothers, connected in part with the ability of their relics to heal. They are the Patron Saints of surgeons, physicians, dentists, protectors of children, barbers, pharmacists, veterinarians, orphanages, day-care centers, confectioners, and children in houses, and are invoked against hernia and against the plague. Today we also honor Blessed Paul VI, Pope (died 1978). Born as Giovanni Montini in 1897 in Concesio, Italy, in 1916 he entered the seminary, and was ordained in 1920. Montini concluded his studies in Milan with a doctorate in Canon Law in the same year. Afterwards he studied at the Gregorian University, the University of Rome La Sapienza and at the Accademia dei Nobili Ecclesiastici. At the age of twenty-five Montini entered the Secretariat of State for the Vatican in 1922; the only foreign diplomatic experience Montini underwent was his time in the nunciature in Warsaw, Poland in 1923. After his return from Poland, as University chaplain in 1924 as spiritual and advisor to the Union of Catholic Students of Italy he frequented Catholic youth organizations and Catholic student groupings, which he spiritually assisted with masses and sermons. He was one of the Vatican prelates with a distinct anti-fascist record.  Montini was chaplain to the Catholic Student organization Federazione degli Universitari Cattolici Italiani (FUCI), when the Fascist government outlawed all political parties and groupings, leaving FUCI as a religious organization as the only non-fascist group in Italian universities. FUCI refused to accept members of the fascist party or allied student organizations. In 1931 he was appointed to teach history at the Papal Academy for Diplomats.  In 1937 Montini was named Substitute for Ordinary Affairs under Cardinal Pacelli, the Secretary of State under Pope Pius XI. The election of Pacelli to the papacy in 1939 was a good omen for Montini, whose position was confirmed in the position under the new Secretary of State Luigi Maglione. During the war years, thousands of letters from all parts of the world arrived at the desk of the pope, most of them asking for understanding, prayer and help. Montini was tasked to formulate the replies in the name of Pius XII, expressing his empathy, and understanding and providing help, where possible. At the request of the pope, he created an information office for prisoners of war and refugees, which in the years of its existence from 1939 until 1947 received almost ten million information requests and produced over eleven million answers about missing persons. At the request of the pope he helped to create the Pontificia Commissione di Assistenza, which aided large number of Romans and refugees from everywhere with shelter, food and other material assistance. In Rome alone this organization distributed almost two million portions of free food in the year 1944. In 1954 Montini was appointed to the most senior Italian church post of Archbishop of Milan, which made him automatically the speaker of the Italian Bishop Conference. Pope John XXIII raised Montini to the cardinalate in 1958, making him Cardinal-Priest of Ss. Silvestro e Martino ai Monti, and appointed him simultaneously to several Vatican congregations which resulted in many visits by Montini to Rome in the coming years. When John XXIII died of stomach cancer in 1963, Montini was elected to the papacy in the following conclave and took the name Paul VI. He did away with much of the regal splendor of the papacy. In 1968, with the motu proprio Pontificalis Domus, he discontinued most of the ceremonial functions of the old Roman nobility at the papal court, save for the Prince Assistants to the Papal Throne. He also abolished the Palatine Guard and the Noble Guard, leaving the Swiss Guard as the sole military order of the Vatican. He re-opened the Second Vatican Council, which was automatically closed with the death of John XXIII, and gave it priority and direction. After the Council concluded its work, Paul VI took charge of the interpretation and implementation of its mandates, often walking a thin line between the conflicting expectations of various groups within the Roman Catholic Church. The magnitude and depth of the reforms affecting all areas of Church life during his pontificate exceeded similar reform policies of his predecessors and successors. Paul VI was a Marian devotee, speaking repeatedly to Marian congresses and mariological meetings, visiting Marian shrines and issuing three Marian encyclicals. His positions on birth control (Humanae Vitae) and other issues were controversial in Western Europe and North America, but applauded in Eastern and Southern Europe and Latin America. His pontificate took place during sometimes revolutionary changes in the world, student revolts, the Vietnam War and other upheavals. Paul VI tried to understand it all but at the same time defend the Deposit of Faith as it was entrusted to him. He died in 1978 (known as the Year of Three Popes), and the diocesan process for his beatification began in 1993. On December 20th, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI declared that the late pontiff had lived a life of heroic virtue, which meant that he could now be called “Venerable”. A miracle attributed to the intercession of Paul VI was approved on May 9th, 2014 by Pope Francis. The beatification ceremony for Paul VI was held on October 19th, 2014, which means he is now a Blessed. His liturgical feast day is celebrated on the date of his birth rather than the day of his death as is usual; this may be because he died on the major Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6th) (the date when I used to honor him in this Weblog). If you know of any miracles that can be attributed to his intercession, please contact the Vatican. Today is the second day of Banned Books Week. So read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain today! Today is also the birthday of Richard’s niece Leah in Iowa, the daughter of Richard’s Sister in Iowa (1977).

Yesterday it was announced that Head Coach Les Miles and Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Cam Cameron were fired by LSU; the Interim Head Coach is now Ed Orgeron, formerly the Defensive Line Coach and Recruiting Coordinator. And Richard gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb before coming to bed.

I did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Devotional Reading and said the Fifth Day of my Novena to Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus. Before we clocked in I put in for Saturday, December 24th, 2016, and sent an Email to Liz Ellen telling her that I had put in for Tuesday, December 20th, Friday, December 23rd, and Saturday, December 24th. (It remains to be seen if I will get those days off; I probably won’t know until the second week of December.) Once we clocked in, Richard was on Mini Baccarat, and I was the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat, Pai Gow, and a Blackjack table. On my breaks I continued reading The Woman Who Walked In Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith via Overdrive on my tablet.

On our way home I continued reading The Woman Who Walked In Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith via Overdrive on my tablet. I dropped Richard off at Fantastic Sam’s, and while he got a haircut I went to Wal-Mart and got groceries and household items. I then picked Richard up at Fantastic Sam’s, and we headed home. He paid a couple of bills, then went to mow the grass; I read the morning paper and ate my lunch salad. I then finished reading The Woman Who Walked In Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith via Overdrive on my tablet. I worked on genealogy, then watched Jeopardy! with Richard at 4:30 pm, then did my Book Review for this weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts for The Woman Who Walked In Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith. And now I will finish today’s Daily Update, do some reading, and go to bed. Tonight our New Orleans Saints (0-2, 0-0) will play a home NFL game with the Atlanta Falcons (1-1, 0-1); I will record the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest (died 1660), and Banned Books Week continues into its third day. We will head to the casino for our Friday; if we sign the Early Out list, Richard will get out before I do, since I had to call in on Sunday.And in the afternoon I will relax and read.

Our Parting Quote this Monday afternoon comes to us from Gloria Stuart, American actress. Born as Gloria Stewart in 1910 in Santa Monica, California, her father, who had been appointed a judge and was about to take the bench, was hit by a car and died when she was nine years old. Her mother got a job in the Ocean Park, California post office to support her children. Stuart graduated from high school in 1927 and ran off to Berkeley to attend the University of California, Berkeley, where she majored in drama and philosophy but dropped out in her junior year to marry Blair Gordon Newell, a San Francisco sculptor working under Ralph Stackpole on the facade of the San Francisco Stock Exchange building. The Newells lived a bohemian life in Carmel and were part of a circle of artists including Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Robinson Jeffers. She acted at the Carmel Playhouse and worked on the Carmel newspaper. Returning to Los Angeles, she appeared at the Pasadena Playhouse and was immediately signed to a contract by Universal Studios in 1932. She changed the spelling of her last name from Stewart to Stuart, reportedly because the latter name would fit better on a marquee, and became a favorite of director James Whale, appearing in The Old Dark House (1932), The Kiss Before the Mirror (1933) and The Invisible Man (1933). She became a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild, but her career with Universal was disappointing. She moved to 20th Century Fox, and by the end of the decade had appeared in more than forty films, including Busby Berkeley’s Gold Diggers of 1935 and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. She appeared alongside such stars as Lionel Atwill, Lionel Barrymore, Freddie Bartholomew, Warner Baxter, James Cagney, Eddie Cantor, Melvyn Douglas, Ruth Etting, Boris Karloff, Paul Lukas, Raymond Massey, Pat O’Brien, Al Pearce, Dick Powell, Claude Rains, the Ritz Brothers, Shirley Temple and Lee Tracy. Meanwhile, in 1934 Stuart and Newell divorced amicably and she married screenwriter Arthur Sheekman, one of the writers on Roman Scandals. Sheekman was Groucho Marx’s best friend and was collaborating (sometimes without credit) on Marx Brothers films. Later, Sheekman ghostwrote several of Marx’s books; Marx called him “The Fastest Wit in the West”. The Sheekmans’ daughter, Sylvia Vaughn Sheekman, was born in 1935. Four years later, Stuart convinced her husband they should travel around the world. When they reached France, they tried to volunteer for the French Resistance, but were turned down, so they caught the last ship sailing to New York, where they worked in the theatre. In the next few years, Sheekman wrote several plays (two with George S. Kaufman) and Stuart got roles mostly in summer stock, including Emily to Thornton Wilder’s Stage Manager in Our Town. When Sheekman’s third play flopped, they returned to Hollywood, and he was hired by Paramount Pictures. Stuart took singing lessons and toured the country entertaining the troops in hospitals and selling war bonds. In 1946 she opened a small business, Décor, Ltd, where she sold lamps, tables, chests and other objets d’art of decoupage she created. Sheekman wrote 17 screenplays during the next 16 years. In 1954, with their daughter studying at UC Berkeley, Stuart and Sheekman joined friends who were living abroad, settling in Rapallo on the Italian Riviera. Inspired by the success of the primitive paintings of Grandma Moses, Stuart took up oil painting. Her first one-woman show at the Hammer Galleries in New York all but sold out. In 1975, after 29 years away from acting, with her husband in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer’s, Stuart got herself an agent and hoped for work. Sheekman died in 1978; over the next few years she appeared in small parts in television. Then in 1982 came an offer for what was to be one of her favorite scenes in all her films: playing a silver-haired dowager taking a solitary turn around a dance floor with Peter O’Toole in My Favorite Year. During this period Stuart took up the Japanese art of bonsai, becoming the first Anglo member of the California Bonsai Society. And she began to travel again, going with friends or on her own to Europe, India, Africa, the Balkans. Five years after husband’s death, Stuart became reacquainted with California printer Ward Ritchie (Ward Ritchie Press), whom she had known during her college years. Both widowed, they fell in love. She was fascinated by his antique hand press and asked him to teach her how to run it. She bought her own hand press, established Imprenta Glorias, and began creating artists’ books (books hand-made, labor intensive, usually with a very limited run). Stuart wrote the text, designed the book, set the type, printed the pages, and finished pages with water colors or silk screen or decoupage. Books from Imprenta Glorias are in the Metropolitan Museum, Library of Congress, Huntington Library, J. Paul Getty Museum, Morgan Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, Bibliothèque nationale de France, and numerous private and university collections. Stuart and Ritchie kept company (each in their own house) until his death from cancer in 1996. Not long after Ritchie’s death Stuart landed the role of 100-year-old Rose, at the heart of James Cameron’s 1997 film Titanic. Stuart was nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award. She remains the oldest person ever to have been nominated for an Oscar. Stuart published her autobiography, I Just Kept Hoping, in 1999, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2000. Her last appearance on film was a role in Wim Wenders’s Land of Plenty in 2004, and afterward she gave numerous filmed and audio interviews. Stuart continued to work at her artist’s books, finishing a miniature about the time when she was in Berkeley, titled I Dated J. Robert Oppenheimer. When Stuart was 99 years old she was interviewed by writer and actor Mark Gatiss about her role in The Old Dark House by James Whale, and about her co-star Boris Karloff, for his 2010 BBC documentary series A History of Horror. She died in her sleep just two months after her 100th birthday (died 2010): “When I graduated from Santa Monica High in 1927, I was voted the girl most likely to succeed. I didn’t realize it would take so long.”

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