Daily Update: Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Elizabeth of Hungary and Henriette DeLille

Today is the Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (died 1231) and the Remembrance of Venerable Henriette DeLille, Religious (died 1862).

Born in 1207 at Presburg, Hungary, Elizabeth was the daughter of King Andrew of Hungary, and was married to Prince Louis of Thuringia at age thirteen. Two years later the first Franciscan friars arrived, and she became affiliated with the Third Order of Saint Francis, a lay Franciscan group, probably without becoming an official Tertiary. She built a hospital at the foot of the mountain on which her castle stood, and tended to the sick herself. Her family and courtiers opposed this, but she insisted she could only follow Christ’s teachings, not theirs. Once when she was taking food to the poor and sick, Prince Louis stopped her and looked under her mantle to see what she was carrying; the food had been miraculously changed to roses. Upon the death of Louis, Elizabeth sold all that she had, and worked to support her four children. She died at the age of twenty-four, and is the Patron Saint of hospitals, nurses, bakers, brides, countesses, dying children, exiles, homeless people, lace-makers, widows, and the Third Order of Saint Francis. We also honor Venerable Henriette DeLille, Religious (died 1862). Born in 1813 in New Orleans, Louisiana, her father was French, and her mother was a free quadroon (one-fourth black, three-fourths white); her parents were not married, but were joined in a common-law marriage typical of the contemporary plaçage system, in which white men of status would have a light-skinned black mistress in a recognized social relationship. Henriette and her brother Jean were thus octaroons (one-eighth black, seven-eighths white), could pass for white, and were raised in the mixed-race Créole culture of New Orleans. Trained by her mother in French literature, music, dancing, and nursing, Henriette was groomed to take her place in the plaçage system as the common-law wife of a wealthy white man. As a young woman, under the watchful eye of her mother, she attended many quadroon balls, a chief element of their social world. However, she was drawn instead to a strong religious belief in the teaching of the Catholic Church, and resisted the life her mother suggested. She became an outspoken opponent of the system of plaçage, on the grounds that it represented a violation of the Catholic sacrament of marriage. In 1827, at the age of fourteen, the well-educated Henriette began teaching at the local Catholic school. Over the next several years, her devotion to caring for and education of the poor grew, causing conflict with her mother. In 1835 her mother suffered a nervous breakdown. Later that year, the court declared her incompetent, and granted Henriette control of her assets. After providing for her mother’s care, Henriette sold all her remaining property. In 1836 she used the proceeds to found a small unrecognized order of nuns, the Sisters of the Presentation. The original members consisted of Henriette, seven young Créole women, and a young French woman, and their ministry was to the poor people of color in New Orleans. Her brother objected to her activities on the grounds that they exposed his ancestry; he left New Orleans and settled in a Créole community in Iberia Parish now known as Grand Marais. In 1837 Father Etienne Rousselon secured formal recognition of the new order from the Vatican. In 1842 the order changed its name to the Sisters of the Holy Family. At the time of Henriette’s death in 1862 there were twelve members in the Order; by 1909, it had grown to 150 members, and operated parochial schools in New Orleans that served 1,300 students. By 1950, membership in the order peaked at 400. In 2001 the Lifetime television channel premiered a movie based on the life of Henriette DeLille, The Courage To Love, which starred Vanessa L. Williams and Gil Bellows. The Sisters of the Holy Family remain active today, with over 200 members who serve the poor by operating free schools for children, nursing homes, and retirement homes in New Orleans and Shreveport, Louisiana; Washington, D.C; Galveston, Texas; Little Rock, Arkansas; California; and the Central American country of Belize. Damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 shut down the New Orleans operations of the order temporarily, but they have now moved back into their motherhouse in Gentilly. Henriette DeLille was declared Venerable by the Vatican in 2010; if you know of any miracles that can be attributed to her intercession, please contact the Vatican.

While taking my bath last night I started reading Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America by Barbara Ehrenreich. Our New Orleans Pelicans lost their NBA game with the Orlando Magic by the score of 82 to 89. And our Lady Tigers won their College Basketball game with the Rice Lady Owls by the score of 66 to 55; our LSU Lady Tigers (3-0, 0-0) will next play a home College Basketball game with the Uconn Lady Huskies (1-0, 0-0) on November 20th.

I ignored my alarm, and did not wake up until 10:00 am. I did my Book Devotional Reading and read the Thursday papers, then I prepared Liz Ellen’s more or less monthly package to send off to her.

At 11:45 am I left the house; my first stop was the car wash, as the car was fairly filthy from our vacation (mostly on the windshield, and I did not want to drive around with a windshield I could not see out of. I picked up my photos to use for our Christmas Photo at Wal-Mart, but was not 100% happy with them; and the Wal-Mart Pharmacy did not have 6-hour Sudafed©. I stopped back at the house, then headed for Lafayette. At 2:00 pm I ate a late lunch at Piccadilly Cafeteria and continued reading Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America by Barbara Ehrenreich. I then returned all of my library books to the Lafayette Public Library – Southside Branch, then put in an hour or two of Comfy Chair Time at Barnes and Noble. While there, I cropped the photo I wanted to use for my Christmas Photo, and un-encryted my SD card. I then went to the Wal-Mart on Ambassador Caffrey and got 6-hour Sudafed© for Liz Ellen, and made copies of my cropped photo to use for my Christmas Photo.

I arrived home at 6:30 pm, and found that my Hanukkah candles for my Menorah had been delivered. At 7:25 pm, Richard and I watched the New Orleans Saints lose their NFL Divisional game with the Carolina Panthers by the score of 20 to 23. Our New Orleans Saints (4-6, 1-2) will next play a home NFL with the Los Angeles Rams (4-5, 2-1) on Sunday, November 27th.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilicas of Saint Peter (c. 360) and Saint Paul (fourth century), Apostles, and the Optional Memorial of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, Virgin (died 1852). Tomorrow is also the birthday of my son’s friend Will (1986), and the Leonid Meteor Shower should be visible in the predawn hours to the South (weather permitting). We are still on vacation, but I plan to wake up at a reasonable hour (or at least more reasonable than 10:00 am), and start addressing my Christmas Cards. Our LSU Tigers (2-0, 0-0) will be playing a home College Basketball game with the North Florida Ospreys (1-0, 0-0), and our New Orleans Pelicans (3-9, 0-2) will be playing a home NBA game with the Portland Trail Blazers (7-5, 3-0).

Our Parting Quote on this Thursday Evening comes to us from Doris Lessing, British novelist and short story writer. Born as Doris Tayler in 1919 in Kermanshah, Persia (now Iran), where her English father (who had lost a leg in World War I; he had met her mother, an English nurse, while convalescing in England) was a clerk for the Imperial Bank of Persia. In 1925 the family moved to the British colony of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to farm maize and other plants on about 1,000 acres of bush that her father had bought. Lessing left school at age 14, and was self-educated from then on; she left home at 15 and worked as a nursemaid. She started reading material that her employer gave her on politics and sociology and began writing around this time, selling her first short story at the age of 15. In 1937 Lessing moved to Salisbury (now Harare) to work as a telephone operator, and she soon married her first husband, Frank Wisdom, with whom she had two children before the marriage ended in 1943. After her first divorce, Lessing’s interest was drawn to the popular community of the Left Book Club, a communist book club which she had joined the year before. It was here that she met her future second husband, Gottfried Lessing. They married shortly after she joined the group, and had a child together before they divorced in 1949. She did not marry again. Gottfried Lessing later became the East German ambassador to Uganda, and was murdered in the 1979 rebellion against Idi Amin Dada. Lessing moved to London in 1949 with her youngest son to pursue her writing career and communist beliefs, but left the two elder children with their father in South Africa. As well as campaigning against nuclear arms, she was an active opponent of apartheid which led in 1956 to being banned from South Africa and Rhodesia for many years. In the same year, following the Soviet invasion of Hungary, she left the British Communist Party. By this time she had published her first novel, The Grass is Singing, in 1950. This was during her Communist theme era (1944–56), when she was writing radically on social issues. From 1956 to 1969 was her psychological theme era. Her breakthrough work, The Golden Notebook, was written in 1962; she was somewhat annoyed to have the work categorized as a feminist classic. The Children of Violence series of novels were Martha Quest (1952), A Proper Marriage (1954), A Ripple from the Storm (1958), Landlocked (1965), and The Four-Gated City (1969). In 1977 she declined the Order of the British Empire (OBE), on the grounds that it referenced a no-longer-existent Empire. By 1979 she had moved into a science-fiction Sufi theme era, with the novels in the Canopus in Argos: Archives series: Shikasta (1979), The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five (1980), The Sirian Experiments (1980), The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (1982), and The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire (1983). In 1982 Lessing tried to publish two novels under a pseudonym, Jane Somers, to show the difficulty new authors faced in trying to have their works in print. The novels were declined by Lessing’s UK publisher, but were later accepted by another English publisher, Michael Joseph, and in the US by Alfred A. Knopf. The Diary of a Good Neighbour was published in Britain and the US in 1983, and If the Old Could in both countries in 1984, both as written by Jane Somers. In 1984, both novels were re-published in both countries (Viking Books publishing in the United States), this time under one cover, with the title The Diaries of Jane Somers: The Diary of a Good Neighbour and If the Old Could, listing Lessing as author. She returned to her Communist themes in The Good Terrorist (1985). Lessing declined a damehood in 1992. Later she accepted appointment as a Companion of Honour at the end of 1999 for “conspicuous national service”. She was also made a Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature. During the late 1990s Lessing suffered a mini-stroke which stopped her from travelling during her later years. She was still able to attend the theatre and opera, however. In 2001 she was awarded the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime’s achievement in British literature. In 2007 Lessing was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She received the prize at the age of 88 years 52 days, making her the oldest winner of the literature prize at the time of the award and the third-oldest Nobel laureate in any category (after Leonid Hurwicz and Raymond Davis Jr.). She also was only the 11th woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature by the Swedish Academy in its 106-year history. She titled her Nobel Lecture On Not Winning the Nobel Prize and used it to draw attention to global inequality of opportunity, and to explore changing attitudes to storytelling and literature. The lecture was later published in a limited edition to raise money for children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS. In a 2008 interview for the BBC’s Front Row, she stated that increased media interest after the award had left her without time or energy for writing. Her final book, Alfred and Emily, appeared in 2008. In 2008 The Times ranked her fifth on a list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”. During her long career, besides the writing of novels and short stories, she had written opera libretti, poems, a graphic novel, four autobiographies (the first in 1957, the last in 2004), and several short stories about cats (died 2013): “With a library you are free, not confined by temporary political climates. It is the most democratic of institutions because no one — but no one at all — can tell you what to read and when and how.”

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