Daily Update: Monday, October 3rd, 2016

Rosh Hashana 2 - Elena Flerova - Rosh Hashanah and Theodore Guerin and 10-03 - Hurricane Lili and World Habitat Day

Until sunset, today is Rosh Hashana 5777. Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Théodore Guérin, Virgin (died 1856). On this date in 2002 Hurricane Lili made landfall in Southwestcentral Louisiana, and went right through my town (though I was not there at the time). And since today is the First Monday in October, today is World Habitat Day.

The Jewish New Year is observed as a day of rest (Leviticus 23:24) like other Jewish holidays. When not on Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah is characterized by the blowing of the shofar (in ancient times it was also sounded on the Sabbath in the Temple), a trumpet made from a ram’s horn or the horn of a goat or various types of antelope or gazelle (although not from a cow), intended to symbolically awaken the listeners from their “slumbers” and alert them to the coming judgment. Rosh Hashanah meals usually include apples and honey, to symbolize a sweet new year. Turning to the Church Calendar, today’s Saint was born in 1798 in Etables-sur-Mer, Brittany as Anne-Thérèse Guérin. She joined the Sisters of Providence at Ruillé-sur-Loir, France in 1823, taking the name Sister St. Théodore, and making her final vows in 1831. For several years she taught in Rennes and Soulaines. In 1840 she was sent with five other sisters (Sister Olympiade Boyer, Sister St. Vincent Ferrer Gagé, Sister Basilide Sénéschal, Sister Mary Xavier Lerée and Sister Mary Liguori Tiercin) to the diocese of Vincennes, Indiana. They established the Academy of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods on July 4, 1841 at Terre Haute, Indiana, the first Catholic women’s liberal-arts college in the United States. Mother St. Théodore established schools at Jasper, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Village, Vincennes, Montgomery, Madison, Terre Haute, Fort Wayne, Evansville, North Madison, Lanesville and Columbus, all in Indiana, and in Saint Francisville in Illinois. She founded an orphanage for girls and one for boys in Vincennes, Indiana, opened pharmacies where medicines were dispensed free to the poor at Vincennes and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, and oversaw construction of a motherhouse for the Sisters of Providence and several additions to the Academy. She is a relatively recent Saint, having been canonized in 2002 (so technically she is Saint St. Théodore Guérin), and she is the Patron Saint of the Knights of Columbus of Indianapolis, Indiana, and of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette, Indiana. And it was on this date in 2002 that Hurricane Lili hit the Louisiana coast as a Category 1 hurricane. The storm made landfall near Intracoastal City, and went right up through SouthWestCentral Louisiana. I was not home at the time, as I was in Richmond, Virginia (at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, to be exact), and I was getting updates on the status of the storm from Richard. Later in my trip, I called home, and my daughter answered the land line, and expressed how discouraged she was that it was hot and that there was no electricity and thus no air conditioning. She then asked, “Where are you?” I told her that I was in New York City, whereupon she said, “New York City? That’s not fair!” and hung up the phone on me, which amused me more than it annoyed me. Finally, since today is the First Monday in October, today is World Habitat Day. This day was officially designated by the United Nations and first celebrated in 1986. The purpose of the day is to reflect on the state of our cities and towns and the basic human right to adequate shelter. It also aims to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the habitat of future generations.

Last night our New Orleans Saints, in an away NFL game, managed to beat the San Diego Chargers by the score of 35 to 34. Our Saints (1-3, 0-2) will have a bye week, then on October 18th they will play a home NFL divisional game with the Carolina Panthers (1-3, 1-2).

I took the polish off of my toenails (more anon), posted to Facebook that today was World Habitat Day, and did my Book Devotional Reading. Richard gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading; I then determined that I will be mailing out fifty-four Christmas cards this year, with 25 of them including whatever photo I choose to be our Christmas Photo this year. Once we were in ADR, I called the Pharmacy and renewed two prescriptions. We then clocked in for the first day of the two-week pay period; Richard spent his day on Mississippi Stud, and I was on Mini Baccarat all day.

After work we went over to the Clinic and Pharmacy; I picked up my prescriptions, and Richard got blood drawn for lab work ahead of his appointments with the Nurse Practitioner and the Dietician next Monday after work. We then got our flu shots for the year; they cost us $5.00 each, but we really did not want to come to the Clinic on our day off on Wednesday to get our flu shots for free. Richard then dropped off his pants at Uniforms.

When we got home, I ate my lunch salad and read the morning paper while putting polish on my toenails; I am considering having polish on my toenails year round, rather than just during the summer. Richard mowed the grass, and I worked on Geneology. I then watched Jeopardy! while Richard went to bed, then came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi, Religious (died 1226), and the anniversary of my granddaughter’s baptism (2015). It is also World Animal Day, and the birthday of our friend and co-worker Sue (1948). We will go to work early and sign the Early Out list, and, besides working tomorrow, I have nothing planned. Our New Orleans Pelicans will play a home Preseason NBA game with the Indiana Pacers tomorrow evening.

Our Parting Quote on this Monday afternoon comes to us from Benedict Groeschel, American Franciscan friar. Born as Robert Groeschel in 1933 in Jersey City, New Jersey, as the eldest of six children he attended Catholic schools, and after high school in 1950 he entered the Capuchin Order’s St. Felix Friary (later turned into the Good Shepherd Church of the United Brethren in Christ) in Huntington, Indiana. As a novice at St. Felix’s, Groeschel met and was deeply impressed by Venerable Solanus Casey (1957). After nine months in Indiana, Groeschel completed his novitiate at the order’s friary in the Detroit Province in 1951. The following year, he was admitted to temporary profession of vows and given the religious name of Benedict Joseph, after a Franciscan saint, Benedict Joseph Labre. In later life he would often comment that he felt it significant that his patron saint in the order was most likely schizophrenic. Groeschel made his perpetual profession in 1954 and was ordained a priest in 1959. In 1960 Groeschel became the chaplain for the Children’s Village, a facility for emotionally disturbed children based in Dobbs Ferry, New York. He received a master’s degree in counseling from Iona College in 1964. In 1965 he joined the staff of St. Joseph’s Seminary, and later taught at Fordham University, Iona College and Maryknoll Seminary. In 1967 he founded the St. Francis House in Brooklyn, New York, which provided a safe haven for young men looking for a new start in life. The results of his counseling, teaching ability and the manner in which he treated his subjects attracted the attention of many, including Terence Cooke, Archbishop of New York (died 1983). He received a Doctor of Education (D.Ed.) degree, with a specialty in psychology, from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1971. Since 1973 Groeschel served as the director of spiritual development for the Archdiocese of New York. In 1974, at Cooke’s request, he founded the Trinity Retreat in Larchmont, New York, which provided spiritual direction and retreats for clergy. In 1984 Cardinal Archbishop John Joseph O’Connor of New York appointed Groeschel to the position of promoter of the cause of canonization for Cooke. (Cardinal Cooke was recognized as a Servant of God as of May 2015.) In the 1980s Groeschel became an early supporter and a popular weekly host for the Catholic television station Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). In 1985 Groeschel co-founded, with Christopher Bell, the Good Counsel Homes for homeless pregnant women and children. In 1987, responding to the call of Pope John Paul II for religious orders to renew their communities, Groeschel and seven Capuchin colleagues broke away from their order “to follow a more traditional religious life that highlighted communal living and traditional garb while serving the poor and needy.” They formed the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal with the mission of preaching reform and serving the poor. At the time of his death the order had grown to 115 brothers and priests and 31 sisters in nine friaries in the United States, four friaries in Europe, and two convents in Central America. In 1984 Groeschel had heart problems that were addressed by bypass surgery. After joining the Institute of Psychological Sciences in 2000, Groeschel taught an annual intensive course focused on how to give practical assistance to people experiencing trauma, extreme stress, and sorrow, while at the same time integrating religious values with counseling and psychotherapy. Throughout his career Groeschel was an outspoken opponent of abortion and was quick to defend the church against what he saw as unfair criticism, which endeared him to conservative Catholics. In his 2002 book, From Scandal to Hope, he accused The Boston Globe, The New York Times, and The San Francisco Chronicle of revealing anti-Catholic prejudice in their coverage of the sexual abuse scandal that disrupted the church. He received wide public attention through his preaching engagements, writing and television appearances. He was the author of over 30 books and recorded more than 100 audio and video series. He published articles in several Catholic magazines on a monthly basis and posted a weekly meditation on the Oratory of Divine Love website. His weekly television program, Sunday Night Live with Father Benedict Groeschel, offered a mix of interviews, answering viewer questions and discussing spiritual and social matters relating to the Catholic faith. On January 11th, 2004, Groeschel was struck by an automobile while crossing a street in Orlando, Florida. He “suffered numerous broken bones and intracranial bleeding”, and over a four-hour period, he had no blood pressure, heartbeat or pulse for about 20 minutes. A few days later the trauma triggered a near-fatal heart attack. While he was recovering from his injuries, he collaborated with John Bishop on the book There Are No Accidents: In All Things Trust in God. He broadcast his first live program on EWTN on October 24th, 2004. Although the accident left him with limited use of his right arm and difficulty in walking, he was back preaching and giving retreats by the end of 2004 and he continued to keep a full schedule. In April 2005, following the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, Groeschel said that the new pope had “been very badly abused by the American media”. He thought that the pope’s experiences during World War II had been distorted and his personality misrepresented. In 2009 Groeschel, then age 75, suffered a minor stroke overnight March 20–21. The stroke caused temporary cognitive and speech difficulties which were noticeable in his March 29th, 2005 appearance as the host of EWTN’s Sunday Night Live With Father Benedict Groeschel, where he made the condition public. Groeschel  made controversial comments in a 2012 interview published by the National Catholic Register on August 27th related to the sexual abuse of children by priests: “Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer.” On August 30th he issued a statement: “I apologize for my comments. I did not intend to blame the victim. A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and is always responsible. My mind and my way of expressing myself are not as clear as they used to be. I have spent my life trying to help others the best that I could. I deeply regret any harm I have caused to anyone.” The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal organization also apologized for Groeschel’s remarks, noting that they were out of character for him and stemmed from infirmities due to his 2004 car accident and a recent stroke. On September 3rd 2012, EWTN announced that Groeschel had resigned from his position as host of Sunday Night Prime and that other members of his order would serve as the show’s host. He moved into St. Joseph’s Home for the elderly in Totowa run by the Little Sisters of the Poor. On September 30th, 2014, the Cardinal Newman Society announced on their Facebook page that they had received word that Groeschel “fell and re-injured the same arm that was hurt in his accident ten years ago” and asked for people to request prayers of intercession for his health from “Venerable Solanus Casey, a former roommate of Fr. Groeschel who is up for beatification”. Doctors informed him that they felt it was inadvisable to attempt to repair the damaged arm (a fractured elbow and shoulder) as he was already in a weakened condition from the ongoing illness and was unlikely to survive surgery. He returned home to St. Joseph’s Home, where he died (died 2014): “They said [after my accident] I would never live. I lived. They said I would never think. I think. They said I would never walk. I walked. They said I would never dance, but I never danced anyway.”

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