Daily Update: Sunday, November 20th, 2016

Christ the King and Holy Year of Mercy

Today is the Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the church year (next Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent). Today also ends the Holy Year of Mercy, otherwise known as the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, that began on December 8th, 2015, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in 1925, in response to growing nationalism and secularism, and set the date to be the last Sunday in October, so that it would immediately precede the Feast of All Saints on November 1st. In his 1969 motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis, Pope Paul VI gave the celebration a new date: the last Sunday in the liturgical year. He also renamed the feast as Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe, though few actually call it that. Through this choice of date “the eschatological importance of this Sunday is made clearer”. Pope Benedict XVI has remarked that Christ’s Kingship is not based on “human power” but on loving and serving others. The perfect exemplar of that acceptance, he pointed out, is the Virgin Mary. Her humble and unconditional acceptance of God’s will in her life, the Pope noted, was the reason that “God exalted her over all other creatures, and Christ crowned her Queen of heaven and earth.” Turning to the Holy Year, by a proclamation of Pope Francis, made on April 11th, 2014 (the Sunday of Divine Mercy), the Holy Year of Mercy, otherwise known as the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, began on December 8th, 2015, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To quote Pope Francis, “We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.” The Pope opened the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica on December 8th, 2015, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the opening of the holy door at St. Peter’s was the first time two popes were present, as Pontiff Emeritus Benedict attended at Pope Francis’ invitation), and opened the Holy Door at the Cathedral of the Diocese of Rome (St. John Lateran) on December 13th, the Third Sunday of Advent. On the same Sunday, he announced that in every local church, at the cathedral, or, alternatively, at the co-cathedral or another church of special significance, a Door of Mercy will be opened for the duration of the Holy Year. On November 13th, 2016, the Holy Doors were closed outside of St. Peter’s Basilica, and The Holy Year ends today, on the Solemnity of Christ the King, with the closing of the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica.

I woke up at 9:45 am today, did my Book Devotional Reading, and did my Internet Devotional Reading. Richard went out and got bacon biscuits for me from McDonalds and boudin for himself from the Superette, and I ate my bacon biscuits while reading the Sunday Papers. I did a couple of Advance Daily Update Drafts for this Weblog through Wednesday, December 7th; when Richard took a nap at 1:00 pm, I went out to the front room, put the Black Ice screen protector on my phone, and got started on addressing my Christmas Cards. I then watched two MST3K episodes: The Wild Wild World of Batwoman (#515) and Alien from L.A. (#516). (I have started watching these in order, starting with the first one with Mike Nelson as the Host). Richard woke up while I was watching the second movie; we left the house at 5:15 pm and ate dinner at D.C.’s Sports Bar and Steakhouse. While there I got the word that our LSU Tigers are now ranked #25 in the College Football Rankings (Texas A&M is now ranked #22). I also sent a text to our friend and co-worker Deborah. We got home at 6:00 pm, and I arranged with Deborah that we will come visit tomorrow about noon. Richard and I then watched MST3K Beginning of the End. To no one’s surprise, our LSU Lady Tigers were beaten by the #3 ranked Uconn Lady Huskies in their College Basketball game by the score of 53 to 76; our Lady Tigers will next play the Utep Lady Miners on Thanksgiving, November 24th in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. And I will now finish this Daily Update and take a hot bath and do some reading.

Tomorrow is the Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (last century BC). I will try to get a few Christmas Cards addressed before we leave for Lake Charles tomorrow to see Deborah and Virginia.

This Evening of the Feast of Christ the King brings us a Parting Quote from Robert Altman, American film director. Born in 1925 in Kansas City, Missouri, he had a strong Catholic upbringing, being educated in Jesuit schools. At the age of eighteen he joined the Army; over the course of World War II he flew over 50 bombing missions in Borneo and the Dutch East Indies. Upon his discharge in 1946, Altman moved to California and worked in publicity for a company that had invented a tattooing machine designed for the identification of dogs. He entered filmmaking only as a whim, selling to RKO the script for the 1948 picture Bodyguard, which he co-wrote with George W. George. Altman’s immediate success encouraged him to move to New York City, where he attempted to pursue a career as a writer; he enjoyed little luck, however, and in 1949 he returned to Kansas City, accepting a job as a director and writer of industrial films for the Calvin Company. Here he had his first experiences working with film technology as well as with actors. After helming some 65 industrial films and documentaries, in 1956 Altman was hired by a local businessman to write and direct a feature film in Kansas City on juvenile delinquency. The finished product, titled The Delinquents and made for $60,000, was purchased by United Artists for $150,000 and released in 1957. While primitive, this teen exploitation movie contained the foundations of Altman’s later work in its use of casual, naturalistic dialogue. This success prompted him to move from Kansas City to California for the last time. Altman next co-produced 1957′s The James Dean Story, a documentary rushed into theaters to capitalize on the actor’s recent death and marketed to the cult following emerging in the wake of the tragedy. His first two features brought him to the attention of Alfred Hitchcock, who tapped him as a director for his CBS anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. After just two episodes, Altman resigned due to differences with a producer, but the exposure enabled him to mount a successful TV career in series including BonanzaCombat!, and the Kraft Television Theater. During his TV period, though he was frequently fired for his refusal to conform to network mandates as well as his insistence upon injecting his material with political subtexts and antiwar sentiments, Altman never lacked assignments in an industry desperate for experienced talent. In 1964 one of his episodes for the Kraft Television Theatre was expanded for commercial release under the name Nightmare in Chicago. Two years later he accepted the invitation to direct the low-budget space travel feature Countdown, but was fired within days of the project’s conclusion because of his refusal to edit the film down to a manageable length. Altman did not direct another movie until 1969′s That Cold Day in the Park, a critical and box-office disaster. In 1969 he was offered the script for MASH, an adaptation of a little-known Korean War-era novel satirizing life in the armed services which had already been passed over by over a dozen other filmmakers. He agreed to direct the project, and though production was so tumultuous that stars Elliot Gould and Donald Sutherland even attempted to have Altman fired over his unorthodox filming methods, MASH was widely hailed as an immediate classic upon its 1970 release. Now recognized as a major talent, Altman’s career took firm hold with the success of MASH, and he followed it with other critical breakthroughs such as McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), The Long Goodbye (1973), Thieves Like Us (1974) and Nashville (1975). As a director, he favored stories showing the interrelationships between several characters; he stated that he was more interested in character motivation than in intricate plots. As such, he tended to sketch out only a basic plot for the film, referring to the screenplay as a “blueprint” for action, and allowed his actors to improvise dialogue. He tried to have his films rated R (by the MPAA rating system) so as to keep children out of his audience, as he did not believe children have the patience his films require. In 1980 he directed the musical Popeye, based on the comic strip/cartoon of the same name, which starred Robin Williams in his big-screen debut. Though seen as a failure by some critics, the film did make money, and was in fact the second highest grossing film Altman directed to that point (Gosford Park is now the second highest). During the 1980s, he did a series of films, some well-received (Secret Honor, 1984) and some critically panned (O.C. & Stiggs, 1984). He also garnered a good deal of acclaim for his presidential campaign “mockumentary” Tanner ’88, for which he earned an Emmy Award and regained critical favor. His career was revitalized when he directed 1992′s The Player, a satire of Hollywood, which was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Director, though Altman did not win. After the success of The Player, he directed 1993′s Short Cuts, an ambitious adaptation of several short stories by Raymond Carver. In 1996 Altman directed Kansas City, an under-appreciated work intertwining his love of 1930′s jazz with a complicated kidnapping story. In 2001 his film Gosford Park gained a spot on many critics’ lists of the ten best films of that year. A movie version of Garrison Keillor’s public radio series A Prairie Home Companion was released in June 2006. After five Oscar nominations for Best Director and no wins, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Altman an Academy Honorary Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2006. In 2009 the University of Michigan made the winning bid to archive 900 boxes of his papers, scripts and business records; the total collection measures over 1,000 linear feet (died 2006): “If you don’t have a leg to stand on, you can’t put your foot down.”

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