Daily Update: Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Francis Xavier Seelos and Mary Faustina Kowalska and 10-05 - World Teachers' Day

Today is the Optional Memorial of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, Priest (died 1867) and the Optional Memorial of Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (died 1938). And today is World Teachers’ Day.

Our Blessed for today was born in Füssen, Bavaria, Germany in 1819. Francis Xavier Seelos had expressed a desire for the priesthood since childhood and entered the diocesan seminary in 1842 after having completed his studies in philosophy. Soon after meeting the missionaries of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists), founded for the evangelization of the most abandoned, he decided to enter the congregation and to minister to German-speaking immigrants in the United States. He was accepted by the Congregation on November 22nd, 1842, and sailed the following year from Le Havre, France, arriving in New York on April 20th, 1843. On December 22nd, 1844, after having completed his novitiate and theological studies, Seelos was ordained a priest in the Redemptorist Church of St. James in Baltimore, Maryland. After being ordained, he worked for nine years in the parish of St. Philomena’s in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, first as assistant pastor to St. John Neumann, who was the superior of the Religious Community, later as Superior himself, and for three years as pastor. During this time, he was also the Redemptorist Novice Master. With Neumann, he also dedicated himself to preaching missions. His availability and innate kindness in understanding and responding to the needs of the faithful quickly made him well known as an expert confessor and spiritual director, so much so that people came to him even from neighboring towns. Faithful to the Redemptorist charism, he practiced a simple lifestyle and a simple manner of expressing himself. The themes of his preaching, rich in Biblical content, were always heard and understood even by the simplest people. A constant endeavor in this pastoral activity was instructing the little children in the faith. He not only favored this ministry, he held it as fundamental for the growth of the Christian community in the Parish. In 1854 he was transferred from Pittsburgh to Baltimore, then to Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Cumberland, Maryland, in 1857, and to Annapolis (1862), all the while engaged in Parish ministry and serving in the formation of future Redemptorists as Prefect of Students. Even in this post, he was true to his character, remaining always the kind and happy pastor, always prudently attentive to the needs of his students and conscientious of their doctrinal formation. Above all, he strove to instill in these future Redemptorist missionaries the enthusiasm, spirit of sacrifice, and apostolic zeal for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the people. In 1860 he was proposed as a candidate for the office of Bishop of Pittsburgh. Having been excused from this responsibility by Blessed Pope Pius IX, from 1863 until 1866 he dedicated himself to the life of an itinerant missionary preaching in English and German in the states of Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. After a brief period of parish ministry in Detroit, Michigan, he was assigned in 1866 to the Redemptorist community in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here also, as pastor of the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption, he was known as a pastor who was joyously available to his faithful and singularly concerned for the poorest and the most abandoned. However, his ministry in New Orleans was destined to be brief. In September of that year, exhausted from visiting and caring for victims of yellow fever, he contracted the disease. After several weeks, he died on October 4th, 1867. The National Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos is located in St. Mary’s Assumption Church, the first German Catholic Church in New Orleans and in the state of Louisiana. The Shrine contains the official portrait of Father Seelos, which was used in Rome for his beatification, as well as photographs that depict Father Seelos and his life as a missionary. The centerpiece of the Shrine is a sacred reliquary, which houses the remains of Father Seelos. He was Beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2000; if you know of any miracles that can be attributed to his influence, please contact the Vatican. We also honor Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (died 1938). Born in 1905 in Glogowiec, Poland as Elena (Helena) Kowalska, she was the third of ten children and only attended three years of school. As a teenager she worked as a domestic servant for other families. After being rejected by several religious orders, she became a nun in the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw, Poland in 1925; the Congregation is devoted to the care and education of troubled young women. Upon taking her vows she changed her name to Sister Maria Faustina of the Most Blessed Sacrament. During her thirteen years in various houses of the Congregation, she was a cook, gardener, and porter. She had a special devotion to Mary Immaculate, to the Blessed Sacrament, and to Reconciliation, which led to a deep mystical interior life. She began to have visions, receive revelations, and experience hidden stigmata. She began recording these mystical experiences in a diary; being nearly illiterate, it was written phonetically, without quotation marks or punctuation, and was nearly 700 pages. In the 1930s Sister Faustina received a message of mercy from Jesus that she was told to spread throughout the world, a message of God’s mercy to each person individually, and for humanity as a whole. Jesus asked that a picture be painted of him with the inscription: “Jesus, I Trust in You.” She was asked by Jesus to be a model of mercy to others, to live her entire life, in imitation of Christ’s, as a sacrifice. She commissioned the painting in 1935, showing a red and a white light shining from Christ’s Sacred Heart. A bad translation of her diary reached Rome in 1958, twenty years after her death, and was labelled heretical. However, when Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) became Archbishop of Krakow, he was besieged by requests for a reconsideration. He ordered a better translation made, and Vatican authorities realized that instead of heresy, the work proclaimed God’s love. It was published as The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul  in 1981. The Apostles of Divine Mercy is a movement of priests, religious, and lay people inspired by Faustina’s experiences; they spread knowledge of the mystery of Divine Mercy, and invoke God’s mercy on sinners. Approved in 1996 by the Archdiocese of Krakow, it has spread to 29 countries. She was canonized in 2000; that same year, the second Sunday after Easter was designated as Divine Mercy Sunday for the universal Church. In October 2011 some cardinals and bishops sent a petition to Pope Benedict XVI that Faustina be made the fourth female doctor of the Church. She is venerated as the Apostle of Divine Mercy. Today is also World Teachers’ Day. UNESCO proclaimed October 5th to be World Teachers’ Day in 1994, celebrating the great step made for teachers on October 5th, 1966, when a special intergovernmental conference convened by UNESCO in Paris adopted the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, in cooperation with the ILO (International Labour Organization). The aim of the day is to mobilize support for teachers and to ensure that the needs of future generations will continue to be met by teachers. So if you can read my Weblog, thank a teacher!

Last evening our New Orleans Pelicans, in their home Preseason NBA game, lost by the score of 96 to 113. Our Pelicans will next play another Preseason NBA game with the Houston Rockets on October 9th, in a very Away location – Shanghai, China, half a world away (the game is being played at 6:30 am CDT).

Upon waking up at 9:00 am, I started the Weekly Computer Maintenance, posted to Facebook that today was World Teachers’ Day, did my Book Devotional Reading, and ate my breakfast toast while reading the morning paper. I then did my Internet Devotional Reading, finished the Weekly Computer Maintenance, and started the Weekly Virus Scan. I then got a text message from Lisa, to the effect that due to Hurricane Matthew heading up the eastern seaboard Matthew, Callie, the baby, and the cats were evacuating to Louisiana from South Carolina. Richard called Callie to offer to take in the cats when they get to Louisiana.

We left the house at 11:00 am, and I sent a text to Michelle and an Email to Liz Ellen about the kids evacuating. At the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve Prairie Acadian Cultural Center, I got two maps of the National Parks and the 2016 stickers. At my Ob/Gyn’s office I got my order for blood work, and then called the Clinic on our way to Opelousas to arrange to have blood drawn for lab work on Monday after work. In Opelousas we ate Chinese at the Creswell Lane Restaurant for lunch; Richard called Matthew, who reported that they did not expect to be in our town until about 3:00 am. At the Lafayette Public Library – Southside Branch I returned Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde, bought a couple of books at the Book Sale Bookcase, and took out The Gangster by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott (Audiobook), Read by Scott Brick, A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (our next Third Tuesday book), and Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley. We then checked out the cats up for adoption at PetSmart, then went to The Grand 16 to see the 2:20 pm feature of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which was a very good movie with not a whole lot of correspondence to the book.

We got back to town at 5:30 pm; Richard dropped me at the house and went to Wal-Mart to get an additional cat litter box and cat litter. The Weekly Virus Scan had completed, and I got the Louisiana Elections information for next year. I then finished my laundry and ironed my casino pants, apron, and shirts; however, my red dealer shirt has marks on it, and I will be taking it to work on Friday and exchanging it at Uniforms. Richard came home and set up the new cat litter box. And I will finish this Daily Update, finish reading Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen, and start reading First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Bruno, Priest (died 1101), the Optional Memorial of Blessed Marie Rose Durocher, Virgin (died 1849), and the Remembrance of Servant of God Terence Cooke, Bishop (died 1983). And tomorrow is German-American Day. I will order my Christmas Cards, go to the store to get my salad supplies, make my lunch salads for Saturday and Sunday, and do my Book Review for this Weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts for Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen. And I am sure at some point tomorrow we will see Matthew and Callie and the baby (not to mention the cats).

Our Parting Quote this Wednesday evening comes to us from Grace Lee Boggs, American author, social activist, philosopher and feminist. Born as Grace Chin Lee in 1915 in Providence, Rhode Island, in her parent’s home above her father’s restaurant, her Chinese given name was Yue Ping (玉平), meaning “Jade Peace.” Her father was originally from Toishan in China, and had moved to Seattle in 1911; her mother was her father’s second wife (he had left his first wife, who had not given him any sons), and her family was so poor she had barely escaped being sold into slavery. On a scholarship, she went to Barnard College  in New York City, where she was influenced by Kant and Hegel. She graduated in 1935 and in 1940 received her Ph.D. in philosophy from Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, where she wrote her dissertation. Facing significant barriers in the academic world in the 1940s, she took a job at low wages at the University of Chicago Philosophy Library. As a result of their activism on tenants’ rights, she joined the far-left Workers Party, known for its Third Camp position regarding the Soviet Union, which it saw as bureaucratic collectivist. At this point, she began the trajectory that she would follow for the rest of her life: a focus on struggles in the African-American community. She met C. L. R. James during a speaking engagement in Chicago and moved to New York. She also met many activists and cultural figures such as author Richard Wright and dancer Katharine Dunham, and translated into English many of the essays in Karl Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 for the first time. She soon joined the Johnson-Forest tendency led by James, Raya Dunayevskaya and Lee. They focused more centrally on marginalized groups such as women, people of color and youth as well as breaking with the notion of the vanguard party. While originally operating as a tendency of the Workers Party, they briefly rejoined the Socialist Workers Party before leaving the Trotskyist left entirely. The Johnson-Forest tendency also characterized the USSR as State Capitalist. She wrote for the Johnson-Forest tendency under the party pseudonym Ria Stone. Her first book was George Herbert Mead: Philosopher of the Social Individual (1945), followed by The Invading Socialist Society (with James and Dunayevskaya) (1947) and State Capitalism and World Revolution (with James and Dunayevskaya) (1950). She married African American auto worker and political activist James Boggs in 1953 and moved to Detroit that same year where they continued to focus on Civil Rights and Black Power Movement activism. When the Johnson-Forest tendency split in the mid-1950s into the Correspondence Publishing Committee (led by James, who went into exile in Britain) and News and Letters (led by Dunayevskaya), the Boggs supported Correspondence Publishing Committee. In 1962 the Boggs broke with James and continued Correspondence Publishing Committee on their own, along with Lyman Paine and Freddy Paine, while James’ supporters, such as Martin Glaberman, continued on as a new if short-lived organization, Facing Reality. The ideas that formed the basis for the 1962 split can be seen as reflected in The American Revolution: Pages from a Black Worker’s Notebook, written by James Boggs in 1963. Boggs unsuccessfully attempted to convince Malcolm X to run for the United States Senate in 1964. In these years, Boggs wrote a number of books, including Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century (1974) with her husband, and focused on community activism in Detroit where she became a widely known activist. She founded Detroit Summer, a multicultural intergenerational youth program, in 1992 and was the recipient of numerous awards. Additionally, Boggs’ home in Detroit also served as headquarters for the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership. The Boggs Center was founded in the early 1990s by friends of the Boggs and continues to be a hub for community-based projects, grassroots organizing, and social activism both locally and nationally. Her husband died in 1993. She wrote Living for Change: An Autobiography in 1998. As late as 2005 she continued to write a column for the Michigan Citizen newspaper. Her last book was The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century (with Scott Kurashige) (2011).Her life is the subject of the documentary film American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs (2013), produced and directed by the American filmmaker Grace Lee. In 2014, The Social Justice Hub at The New School’s newly opened University Center was named the Baldwin Rivera Boggs Center after activists James Baldwin, Sylvia Rivera, and Grace Lee Boggs. She turned 100 in June 2015 (died 2015): “You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it.”

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