Daily Update: Friday, January 20th, 2017

Fabian and Sebastian and Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2017 and Inaugration Day and Louisiana Arbor Day

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Fabian, Pope and Martyr (died c. 250), and the Optional Memorial of Saint Sebastian, Martyr (died 288). It is also the Third Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity; the Theme for 2017 is “Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us” (2 Corinthians 5:14-20), with our meditation being “We Regard No One From A Human Point of View” (2 Corinthians: 5:16). Today is Inauguration Day, when the President elected (or re-elected) takes office and begins the four-year Presidential term. Our 45th President to be inaugurated is Donald John Trump, and may he have a successful presidency. Since today is the Third Friday in January, today is the date of the Louisiana celebration of Arbor Day. And starting at sunset tonight is the Eve of Saint Agnes, when according to an old folk superstition a girl could see her future husband if she performed certain rites before going to sleep this night.

Turning first to Saint Fabian, he was a layman and farmer when he came into Rome on a day when a new pope was to be elected. A dove flew into the building where Fabian was observing the deadlocked election proceedings and settled on his head; the gathered clergy and laity took this as a sign that Fabian had been anointed, and he was chosen Pope by acclamation. As Pope, he sent Saint Dionysius and other missionaries to Gaul and condemned the heresies of Privatus. He was martyred in the persecutions of Decius; his relics are long gone, but the stone that covered his grave is still in the catacombs of Saint Callistus in Rome. We also honor Saint Sebastian, Martyr (died 288), one of the Saints whose story owes much to legend. Born about 256 in Narbonne, Gaul (part of modern France), he was the son of a wealthy Roman family and educated in Milan. He became an Officer of the Imperial Roman army, and captain of the guard, thus becoming a favorite of Diocletian. During Diocletian’s persecution of the Christians, Sebastian visited them in prison, bringing supplies and comfort. He is reported to have healed the wife of a brother soldier by making the Sign of the Cross over her, and converted soldiers and a governor to Christianity. Charged as a Christian, Sebastian was tied to a tree, shot with arrows, and left for dead. He survived, recovered, and returned to preach to Diocletian. The emperor then had him beaten to death. During the 14th century, the random nature of infection with the Black Death caused people to liken the plague to their villages being shot by an army of nature’s archers. In desperation, they prayed for the intercession of a saint associated with archers, and Saint Sebastian became associated with the plague. He is the Patron Saint of soldiers, archers, and athletes, and his aid in invoked by the plague-stricken and those seeking a holy Christian death. Our Meditation on this Third Day of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is on “We Regard No One From A Human Point of View” (2 Corinthians: 5:16); we pray, “Triune God, you are the origin and goal of all living things. Forgive us when we only see ourselves and are blinded by our own standards. Open our hearts and our eyes. Teach us to be loving, accepting and gracious, so that we may grow in the unity which is your gift. To You be honor and praise, now and for ever. Amen.” The inauguration of the President of the United States is a ceremony to mark the commencement of a new four-year term of a president of the United States. An inauguration ceremony takes place for each term of a president, even if the president continues in office for a second term. Since 1937 Inauguration Day takes place on January 20th following a presidential election. The term of a president commences at noon (EST) on that day, when the Chief Justice administers the oath to the president. However, when January 20th falls on a Sunday, the Chief Justice administers the oath to the president on that day privately and then again in a public ceremony the next day, on Monday, January 21st. The only inauguration element mandated by the United States Constitution is that the president make an oath or affirmation before that person can “enter on the Execution” of the office of the presidency. However, over the years, various traditions have arisen that have expanded the inauguration from a simple oath-taking ceremony to a day-long event, including parades, speeches, and balls. Our 45th President to be inaugurated is Donald John Trump, and may he have a successful presidency. (Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Herbert Hoover and Dwight D. Eisenhower have been our only previous Presidents who had never held public office before the Presidency.) Since today is the Third Friday in January, today is  the date of the Louisiana celebration of Arbor Day. Each state has its own date, in accordance with local growing seasons; click on the Arbor Day Dates Across America site and  find out your local state Arbor Day celebration date (assuming, of course, that you are one of my Three or Four Loyal Readers and / or one of my Army of Followers that lives in these fifty states). The National Date is the Fourth Friday in April, by which time all of our Louisiana trees have already budded out, bloomed, and done whatever else trees do in late spring. (This was even before Global Warming; a rising tide raises all boats, and if they ever move National Arbor Day back earlier in the spring, then Louisiana Arbor Day will move earlier as well. As it is, Louisiana ties with Florida for the earliest Arbor Day, not counting Texas or Hawaii, whose Arbor Days are the first Friday the previous November.) And starting at sunset tonight is the Eve of Saint Agnes. There was a folk superstition that a girl could see her future husband in a dream if she performed certain rites on the eve of St. Agnes; she was to go to bed without any supper, undress herself so that she was completely naked without looking behind her, and lie on her bed with her hands under the pillow and looking up to the heavens. Then her future husband would appear in her dream, kiss her, and feast with her. In 1819 English poet John Keats wrote his long poem The Eve of St. Agnes (published 1820), based on this superstition; the poem begins, “ST. AGNES’ Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was! / The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold.” (Presumably, so is the young maiden, lying naked on her bed waiting for her dream of her future husband.)

While taking my bath last night I continued reading Silence by Shūsaku Endō, Translated by William Johnston. Last night our LSU Lady Tigers lost their College Basketball game with the Kentucky Lady Wildcats by the score of 42 to 55; our LSU Lady Tigers (14-5, 3-3) will next play an away College Basketball game with the Texas A&M Lady Aggies (14-5, 4-2) on Sunday, January 22nd, 2017.

When I woke up to get ready for work, I posted to Facebook that today was Inauguration Day, and posted to Facebook that today was Louisiana Arbor Day. I did my Book Devotional Reading and put out the flag in honor of Inauguration Day. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Once we clocked in at the casino, Richard was at first on Let It Ride until they closed his table; he was then the Relief Dealer for Mississippi Stud and Three Card Poker, and then became the dealer on Mississippi Stud. I spent my day on Mini Baccarat, with a table that never went dead (I had one of our regular players on my table for my whole eight-hour shift).

When we got home I ate my lunch salad and read the morning paper. And now I am doing today’s Daily Update, because I plan to go to bed early today. Our mail today brought me my new boxes of contacts from the Wal-Mart Vision Center (the same as my old prescription), and my earrings I had ordered from Book Beads through Amazon. Our New Orleans Pelicans (17-26, 1-6) will be playing a home NBA game with the Brooklyn Nets (8-33, 0-9) tonight; I will post the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr (died c. 304), and the Fourth Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity; the Theme for 2017 is “Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us” (2 Corinthians 5:14-20), with our meditation on “Everything Old Has Passed Away” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Richard and I will work our eight hours at the casino (plus the additional quarter-hour we get on Saturdays for attending the mandatory Pre-Shift Meeting). When we get home from work I will read the morning paper, then I will go to the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. After my Hour I will go eat lunch at McDonald’s and do some reading, then attend the 4:00 pm Mass for the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time. When I get home from Mass I will do my Daily Update. Our LSU Tigers (9-8, 1-5) will be playing an Away College Basketball game with the Arkansas Razorbacks (14-4, 3-3); I will post the score of the game in Sunday’s Daily Update.

Our Friday Afternoon Parting Quote comes to us from David G. Hartwell, American critic, publisher, and editor. Born in 1941 in Salem Massachusetts, he graduated from Williams College in 1963 with a BA, continuing his studies at Colgate University for an MA in 1965, and at Columbia University where he graduated with a Ph.D. in Comparative Medieval Literature in 1973. Meantime, by 1965 Hartwell was already working as editor and publisher of The Little Magazine (1965-1988), a small press literary magazine. He was also a book review editor of rock music magazine Crawdaddy!, founded by music journalist Paul Williams in 1966, and published through the 1970s. Hartwell worked for Signet (1971–73), Berkley Putnam (1973–78) and Pocket, where he founded the Timescape imprint (1980–85) and created the Pocket Books Star Trek publishing line. In 1977 Hartwell edited the short-lived Cosmos magazine for the newly formed Baronet publishing. Cosmos is remembered as “a fine magazine, providing a good range of quality fiction” in an attractive package, but poor sales for the rest of the publisher’s magazine line forced its cancellation after only four issues. He edited the best-novel Nebula Award-winners Timescape by Gregory Benford (published 1980), The Claw of the Conciliator by Gene Wolfe (published 1981), and No Enemy But Time by Michael Bishop (published 1982), the best-novel Hugo Award-winner Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer (published 2002), and the World Fantasy Award-winning novels The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe (1981) and The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford (1984). From 1984 until his death he worked for Tor Books, where he spearheaded Tor’s Canadian publishing initiative at CAN-CON in Ottawa, and was also influential in bringing many Australian writers to the United States market. In 1988 he won the World Fantasy Award in the category Best Anthology for The Dark Descent. That same year 1988 Hartwell founded The New York Review of Science Fiction, where he served as reviews editor. The magazine was published by Dragon Press, a small independent publisher and bookseller, first established by Hartwell in 1988 as a partnership. He later became the sole proprietor. Hartwell chaired the board of directors of the World Fantasy Convention and, with Gordon Van Gelder, was the administrator of the Philip K. Dick Award. Hartwell edited numerous anthologies, and published a number of critical essays on science fiction and fantasy. Since 1995, his title at Tor/Forge Books was “Senior Editor”. Hartwell edited two annual anthologies: Year’s Best SF, started in 1996 and co-edited with Kathryn Cramer since 2002, and Year’s Best Fantasy, co-edited with Cramer from 2001 through 2010. Both anthologies have consistently placed in the top 10 of the Locus annual reader poll in the category of Best Anthology. Hartwell was nominated for the Hugo Award forty-one times, nineteen in the category of Best Professional Editor and Best Editor Long Form, winning in 2006, 2008 and 2009, and twenty-two times as editor/publisher of The New York Review of Science Fiction. He has also placed in the top ten in the Locus poll for best editor for twenty-seven consecutive years, every year from the award category’s inception to the present day. Hartwell was a Guest of Honor at the 67th World Science Fiction Convention in Montreal in 2009. He was posthumously awarded the World Fantasy Life Achievement Award in October 2016 (died 2016): “I often make gloomy observations on the field but I am an optimist. If I was truly and sincerely a pessimist, I would be trying to find a way to retire — whereas in fact I’m trying to find a way to not only keep my job for the next 20 years but to expand my remit so I can do more anthologies and cover more areas and travel to more countries, and participate!”

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