Today is the First Friday of the month, dedicated to devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Blaise, Bishop and Martyr (died 316) and the Optional Memorial of Saint Ansgar, Bishop (died 865). This day is also Four Chaplains Day, the Day The Music Died in 1959, and, since today is the first Friday in February, today is National Wear Red Day.
The First Friday of each month is dedicated to devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Saint Blaise was born in Armenia in the third century and became a physician and the Bishop of Sebaste, Armenia. He lived in a cave on Mount Argeus, and was a healer of men and animals; according to legend, sick animals would come to him on their own for help, but would never disturb him at prayer. Agricola, governor of Cappadocia, came to Sebaste to persecute Christians; his huntsmen went into the forests of Argeus to find wild animals for the arena games, and found many waiting outside Blaise’s cave. Discovered in prayer, he was arrested, and Agricola tried to get him to recant his faith. While in prison Blaise ministered to and healed fellow prisoners, including saving a child who was choking on a fish bone. Thrown into a lake to drown, he stood on the surface and invited his persecutors to walk out and prove the power of their gods; they did so, and drowned. When he returned to land, he was martyred by being beaten, his flesh torn with wool combs. He is the Patron Saint of veterinarians and of wool-combers, and his aid is invoked for throat disorders. Saint Ansgar was born in 801 in Amiens, Picardy to the French nobility and became a Benedictine monk at Old Corbie Abbey in Picardy and then at New Corbie in Westphalia. He accompanied the converted King Harold to Denmark when the exiled king returned home; becoming a missionary to Denmark and Sweden, he founded the first Christian church in Sweden in about 832. He became Abbot of New Corbie c. 834, and was made Archbishop of Hamburg, ordained by Pope Gregory IV, and served as papal legate to the Scandinavian countries. He established the first Christian school in Denmark, but was run out by pagans, and the school was burned to the ground; he also campaigned against slavery. Being made Archbishop of Bremen, he converted Erik, King of Jutland. He was a great preacher, a miracle worker, and greatly devoted to the poor and sick. Sadly, after his death most of his gains for the Church were lost to resurgent paganism. He is the Patron Saint of Denmark, of the diocese of Hamburg, Germany, of Scandinavia, and of Sweden. Turning to the secular world, in 1943 the SS Dorchester left New York on January 23rd, en route to Greenland, carrying the four chaplains (Methodist minister the Reverend George L. Fox, Reform Rabbi Alexander D. Goode (Ph.D.), Roman Catholic priest Father John P. Washington, and Reformed Church in America minister the Reverend Clark V. Poling, who were sailing on board Dorchester to report to their new assignments in the European theatre of World War II) and approximately 900 other men, as part of a convoy of three ships. During the early morning hours of February 3rd, 1943, at 12:55 am, the vessel was torpedoed by the German submarine U-223 off Newfoundland in the North Atlantic. The torpedo knocked out the Dorchester‘s electrical system, leaving the ship dark. Panic set in among the men on board, many of them trapped below decks. The chaplains sought to calm the men and organize an orderly evacuation of the ship, and helped guide wounded men to safety. As life jackets were passed out to the men, the supply ran out before each man had one. The chaplains removed their own life jackets and gave them to others. They helped as many men as they could into lifeboats, and then linked arms and began saying prayers and singing hymns. A survivor, Grady Clark, said, “As I swam away from the ship, I looked back. The flares had lighted everything. The bow came up high and she slid under. The last thing I saw, the Four Chaplains were up there praying for the safety of the men. They had done everything they could. I did not see them again. They themselves did not have a chance without their life jackets.” According to some reports, survivors could hear different languages mixed in the prayers of the chaplains, including Jewish prayers in Hebrew and Catholic prayers in Latin. On December 19th, 1944, all four chaplains were posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross. Congress also attempted to confer the Medal of Honor on each of the four chaplains, but the stringent requirements for that medal required heroism performed “under fire,” and the bravery and ultimate sacrifice of these men did not technically qualify, since their actions took place after the torpedo attack. Therefore, members of Congress decided to authorize a special medal intended to have the same weight and importance as the Medal of Honor. This award, the Four Chaplains’ Medal, was approved by a unanimous act of Congress on July 14th, 1960, through Public law 86-656 of the 86th Congress. The medals were presented posthumously to the next of kin of each of the Four Chaplains by Secretary of the Army Wilber M. Brucker at Ft. Myer, Virginia on January 18th, 1961. In 1988 February 3rd was established by a unanimous act of Congress as an annual “Four Chaplains Day.” In the world of music, today is the Day The Music Died; on this date in 1959, a small-plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, killed three American rock and roll musicians: Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, as well as the pilot, Roger Peterson. Richardson had contracted flu during the tour and asked Buddy Holly’s base player, Waylon Jennings, for his seat on the plane. When Holly learned that Jennings was not going to fly, he said in jest, “Well, I hope your ol’ bus freezes up.” Jennings responded, “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes,” a humorous but ill-fated response that haunted Jennings for the rest of his life. The artist Roger Paquette constructed a monument to the musicians at the crash site in 1988; in 2003, he added a new memorial to the pilot, Roger Peterson, at the site. (The 1971 song “American Pie” by Don McLean starts with the plane crash, and wanders through American music until the late 1960s; mature reflection by me on the song has led me to the conclusion that McLean really, really hated the Rolling Stones. In late 1971, when I was thirteen and living in West By God Virginia, the late-night radio station DJ in Chicago said he would mail the cheat sheet he’d developed for the song to anyone who wrote and asked for it. I promptly mailed off a request, but never got a reply; for years I thought that either the DJ had tossed my request, or else that he did send a reply and Mom threw it out. However, the DJ was swamped by thousands of requests, as I found out many years later through the miracle of the Internet. In any case, his cheat sheet is now online, linked to the bottom of the Wikipedia page for “American Pie”.) Finally, since today is the first Friday in February, today is National Wear Red Day. The Heart Truth is a national awareness campaign for women about heart disease sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Designed to warn women of their #1 health threat, The Heart Truth created and introduced the Red Dress as the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness in 2002 to deliver an urgent wakeup call to American women, and designated the First Friday of February as the day when all can show their support for women’s heart disease issues by wearing red.
Last night in bed I continued reading 50 Philosophy Ideas You Really Need to Know by Ben Dupré. And our LSU Lady Tigers lost their College Basketball game with the Tennessee Lady Volunteers by the score of 58 to 77; our LSU Lady Tigers (15-7, 4-5) will next play a Home College Basketball game with the Alabama Lady Crimson Tide (15-7, 3-6) on Sunday, February 5th, 2017.
Upon waking up to get ready for work I posted to Facebook that it was Four Chaplains Day, posted to Facebook that today was The Day The Music Died (1959), and posted to Facebook that today was National Wear Red Day. I did my Book Devotional Reading, and remembered to bring our T-shirts with us to work. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading, and I purchased The Death House by Sarah Pinborough (our next Third Tuesday Book Club book) on Kindle (it was not available at the Lafayette Public Library). When we clocked in, Richard was on Mini Baccarat, and I was on Pai Gow; shortly after the shift started they had Richard go to the Shift Office to sign his report about a mistake he had made on his Three Card Poker table a few days ago. Later in the shift Richard sent a text to Callie (who had come in with our Kitten on Wednesday) that we would be home after 1:00 pm. And I continued reading What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe on Kindle on my tablet.
After we clocked out, Richard and I changed into T-shirts and had lunch at Gumbeaux’s at the casino on my $30 comp; it was very good, but overpriced, which we really could not complain about, since we were only out of our own pockets for the tip. We then headed home, with me continuing to read What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe on Kindle on my tablet. Once home, I read the morning paper. Callie and Kitten arrived (with Michelle) at about 1:45 pm, and we all had a very pleasant visit (I am too tired to put any photos up). Kitten had a great time inside and outside. After they left, our son Matthew called on the phone; we had mentioned to Callie that we were thinking of a quick visit next month, and he called to tell us that March 30th through April 3rd would be great for him. I then did an Advance Daily Update Draft for tomorrow’s Daily Update, then watched Jeopardy! with Richard. And I am now finishing up this Daily Update, and when I am done I will read in bed for a bit. I did not do my First Friday devotions today, and I did not go to the Rectory to get the Blessing of Saint Blaise.
Tomorrow is the First Saturday of the month, dedicated to devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. With no Saints to honor, we note that tomorrow is the MidPoint of Winter, and it is World Cancer Day. Richard and I will work our eight hours at the casino, and I will continue reading one or another of my books. After lunch I will go to the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration, followed by Mass at 4:00 pm. Our New Orleans Pelicans (19-31, 2-6) will be playing an Away NBA game with the Washington Wizards (28-20, 5-5), and our LSU Tigers (9-12, 1-8) will be playing a Home College Basketball game with the Texas A&M Aggies (11-10, 3-6); I will record the scores of both games in Sunday’s Daily Update.
Our Parting Quote on this Friday afternoon comes to us from Maria Schneider, French actress. Born as Marie Gélin in 1952 in Paris, she was the daughter of French actor Daniel Gélin and Romanian-born Marie-Christine Schneider, who ran a bookstore in Paris. She met her father only three times and took her mother’s last name. After leaving home at the age of fifteen acress Brigitte Bardot took care of the teenaged Schneider and helped her begin her career in cinéma. After a few early film roles, in 1972 at the age of twenty she was cast opposite Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. She later said that her naïveté led her to accept doing scenes in the movie that were not in the script, including several controversial nude scenes. Her experience with the film, and her treatment as a sex symbol rather than as a serious actress, motivated her to never work nude again. In 1974 she came out as bisexual; in 1976 she abandoned the film set of Caligula(1979) and checked herself into a mental hospital in Rome for several days to be with her lover, photographer Joan Townsend. This, coupled with her refusal to perform nude, led to Schneider’s dismissal from the movie. She was in Bertolucci’s film 1900 in 1976, but afterwards totally broke with the director. She was originally cast to play the part of Conchita in Luis Buñuel’s last film That Obscure Object of Desire (1977), but did not get along with the Spanish director and rejected his stereotypical ideas of women for the role he had in mind, and after a few days of shooting she was replaced in the movie. The 1970s were turbulent years for Schneider, marked by drug addiction, overdoses, and a suicide attempt. In 1981 she joined actor Frédéric Mitterrand in Jacques Rivette’s film Merry-Go-Round. She played the role of Bertha Mason in the 1996 film adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel Jane Eyre, directed by Franco Zeffirelli. In 2001 she was the guest of honor at the 23rd Festival Créteil Films de Femmes, and was chosen to be Vice-President of La Roue Torne, an organization in Paris devoted to assisting senior French actors who had become unemployed and impoverished. She worked in over 50 films and television productions between 1969 and 2008, and during her career was a strong advocate for improving the work of women in film. Schneider was awarded the medal of Chevalier, Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for her contributions to the arts on July 1, 2010 by the Minister of Culture and Communication, Frédéric Mitterrand (died 2011): “When I read Last Tango In Paris, I didn’t see anything that worried me. I was 20. I didn’t want to be a star, much less a scandalous actress – simply to be in cinéma. Later, I realized I’d been completely manipulated by Bertolucci and Brando.”