Today is the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Memorial of Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (died c. 250), and the World Day for Consecrated Life in Church Parishes. Today is also Super Bowl Sunday, with Super Bowl LI being played tonight in NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas, between the AFC Champion New England Patriots and the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons. (Go Falcons!
The Gospel readings for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) are from Matthew 5:13-16, in which Jesus tells his disciples that they are the salt of the earth, and again that they are the light of the world. Turning to today’s Saint, we have little reliable information about Agatha, who has been honoured since ancient times, and whose name is included in the canon of the Mass. Born about 231 in prison at Catania or Palermo, Sicily (sources vary), she was young, beautiful and rich, and lived a life consecrated to God. When Decius announced the edicts against Christians, the magistrate Quinctianus tried to profit by Agatha’s sanctity; he planned to blackmail her into sex in exchange for not charging her as a Christian. Handed over to a brothel, she refused to accept customers. After rejecting Quinctianus’s advances, she was beaten, imprisoned, tortured, and her breasts were crushed and cut off. She told the judge, “Cruel man, have you forgotten your mother and the breast that nourished you, that you dare to mutilate me this way?” One version of her legend has it that Saint Peter healed her. She was then imprisoned again, then rolled on live coals; when she was near death, an earthquake stuck. In the destruction that followed, a friend of the magistrate was crushed, and the magistrate fled. Agatha thanked God for an end to her pain, and died. Legend says that carrying her veil, taken from her tomb in Catania, in procession has averted eruptions of Mount Etna. Her intercession is reported to have saved Malta from Turkish invasion in 1551. She is the Patron Saint of Sicily, her aid is invoked against fire, earthquakes, and other natural disasters, and her aid is also logically invoked against breast cancer. She is also a popular figure in church art, but it is hard to find a painting of her that is not somewhat pornographic in nature. Turning to the World Day for Consecrated Life, Pope John Paul II connected this feast day of the Presentation of the Lord (on February 2nd) with the renewal of religious vows, and in 1997 he instituted the World Day for Consecrated Life, a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life. The World Day for Consecrated Life is celebrated on February 2nd in the Church, and as today is the Sunday on or after February 2nd, the World Day for Consecrated Life is celebrated today in Catholic parishes. Turning to the Super Bowl, the National Football Conference (NFC) champion New England Patriots will play the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Atlanta Falcons in NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas to decide the league champion for the 2016 NFL season. It will be the second Super Bowl to be held at NRG Stadium, the other being Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004, which also featured the New England Patriots; and also the third time the Super Bowl has been played in Houston, after Super Bowl VIII in 1974 was held at Rice Stadium. The event will mark the 50th anniversary year of the first Super Bowl, which was played on January 15th, 1967. Super Bowl LI is the Patriots’ ninth Super Bowl appearance, the most Super Bowl appearances of any team. It is also their second appearance in three years and their seventh under the leadership of head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. The Falcons are making their second appearance as a franchise and will have the chance to win their first Super Bowl, having lost in their only previous Super Bowl appearance in Super Bowl XXXIII. American country music singer and songwriter Luke Bryan will sing the national anthem. Bryan will be the first male performer to sing the national anthem at a Super Bowl since Billy Joel performed the anthem at Super Bowl XLI. Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Jasmine Cephas Jones, who originated the roles of the Schuyler sisters in the Broadway musical Hamilton, will be performing “America the Beautiful” before the game.The Super Bowl LI halftime show will be headlined by Lady Gaga. (Personally, I care not who is playing, or who will win; I watch the game for the commercials. But having said that, I do hope that the Falcons will win, so that some minor reflected glory will fall on the NFC South Division, which includes the New Orleans Saints.)
Last night our New Orleans Pelicans lost their NBA game with the Washington Wizards by the score of 92 to 105. And our LSU Tigers lost their College Basketball team with the Texas A&M Aggies by the score of 73 to 85; our LSU Tigers (9-13, 1-9) will be playing an Away College Basketball game with the #8 Kentucky Wildcats (18-5, 8-2) on Tuesday, February 7th, 2017.
Upon getting up to get ready for work today I posted to Facebook that today was Super Bowl LI. I did my Book Devotional Reading on our way to work. Today, the last day of the current two-week pay period, was also a Heavy Business Volume Day due to the Super Bowl (which the Casino has been calling their “Big Game” promotion, presumably because they would have to pay some sort of royalties to use the term Super Bowl. Our Church Bulletin had pointed out for today, “Due to Supper Bowl Sunday there will be no 6:00 pm Mass held.”) Richard was the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat, Macau Mini Baccarat, and Pai Gow, which was whittled down to two tables when they closed the regular Mini Baccarat table; on his last rotation he broke the newly reopened Four Card Poker table. I started on Three Card Poker, wielding a hair dryer (to quickly dry off where a guest had spilled a drink on the table layout), was moved to Four Card Poker, closed that table, gave a break to a Swing Dealer on a Blackjack table in one of our Overflow pits, sent one of our Graves dealers to the Shift Office, and then I was on the $5,00 Minimum Bet Blackjack table for the rest of the shift. One of our dealers (whose sig other is a Floor) got out early, but her Sig Other did not, so she waited in the Break Room for a solid seven hours for him. (It may be a failure of imagination on my part, but I would rather work for seven hours and get paid rather than sit in the Break Room for seven hours doing nothing.)
On our way home Richard stopped at Dollar General for cheese puffs; once home I made my lunch salads for tomorrow and Tuesday, and ate a salad while reading the morning paper. I then came to the computer, set up my Advance Daily Update Draft for tomorrow, and did today’s Daily Update. I will now go to bed and wake up at 5:00 pm for the Super Bowl, and watch to maybe halftime. I will post the score of the Super Bowl on Monday, and also the score of the College Basketball game between our LSU Lady Tigers (15-7, 4-5)and the Alabama Lady Crimson Tide (15-7, 3-6) later this afternoon.
Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saint Paul Miki, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (died 1597). Tomorrow is also the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. Richard and I will work our eight hours on our Thursday to start off the new two-week pay period at the casino. Our New Orleans Pelicans (19-32, 2-6) will be playing a Home NBA game with the Phoenix Suns (16-35, 2-8).
Our Parting Quote this Sunday afternoon comes to us from Robert A. Dahl, American political theorist. Born in 1915 in Inwood, Iowa, he received his Ph.D. at Yale in 1940 and served on its political science faculty from 1946 to 1986. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he was involved in an academic disagreement with C. Wright Mills over the nature of politics in the United States. Mills held that America’s governments are in the grasp of a unitary and demographically narrow power elite. Dahl responded that there are many different elites involved, who have to work both in contention and in compromise with one another. If this is not democracy in a populist sense, Dahl contended, it is at least polyarchy (or pluralism). His influential early books include A Preface to Democratic Theory (1956), Who Governs? (1961), and Pluralist Democracy in the United States: Conflict and Consent (1967), which presented pluralistic explanations for political rule in the United States. He was elected president of the American Political Science Association in 1966. He established the pluralist theory of democracy, in which political outcomes are enacted through competitive, if unequal, interest groups, and introduced “polyarchy” as a descriptor of actual democratic governance. An originator of “empirical theory” and known for advancing behavioralist characterizations of political power, Dahl’s research focused on the nature of decisionmaking in actual institutions, such as American cities. Dahl was considered one of the most influential political social scientists of the twentieth century, and was described as “the dean of American political scientists.” From the late 1960s onwards, his conclusions were challenged by scholars such as G. William Domhoff and Charles E. Lindblom (a friend and colleague of Dahl). One of Robert Dahl’s many contributions to political thought was his explication of the varieties of power, which he defines as “A” getting “B” to do what “A” wants. Dahl prefers the more neutral “influence terms,” (Michael G. Roskin) which he arrayed on a scale from best to worst: Rational Persuasion, the nicest form of influence, means telling the truth and explaining why someone should do something, like your doctor convincing you to stop smoking; Manipulative persuasion, a notch lower, means lying or misleading to get someone to do something. Inducement, still lower, means offering rewards or punishments to get someone to do something, i.e. like bribery; Power threatens severe punishment, such as jail or loss of job; Coercion is power with no way out; you have to do it; Physical force is backing up coercion with use or threat of bodily harm. In his book Democracy and Its Critics (1989), Dahl clarified his view about democracy. No modern country meets the ideal of democracy, which is as a theoretical utopia. To reach the ideal requires meeting five criteria: Effective participation – Citizens must have adequate and equal opportunities to form their preference and place questions on the public agenda and express reasons for one outcome over the other; Voting equality at the decisive stage – Each citizen must be assured his or her judgments will be counted as equal in weights to the judgments of others; Enlightened understanding – Citizens must enjoy ample and equal opportunities for discovering and affirming what choice would best serve their interests; Control of the agenda – Demos or people must have the opportunity to decide what political matters actually are and what should be brought up for deliberation; and Inclusiveness – Equality must extend to all citizens within the state. Everyone has legitimate stake within the political process. Instead, he called politically advanced countries “polyarchies”. Polyarchies have elected officials, free and fair elections, inclusive suffrage, rights to run for office, freedom of expression, alternative information and associational autonomy. Those institutions are a major advance in that they create multiple centers of political power. In How Democratic Is the American Constitution? (2002) Dahl argued that the United States Constitution is much less democratic than it ought to be, given that its authors were operating from a position of “profound ignorance” about the future. However, he added that there is little or nothing that can be done about this “short of some constitutional breakdown, which I neither foresee nor, certainly, wish for.” Dahl was awarded the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science in 1995. His last book was On Political Equality (2006) (died 2014): “If a matter is best dealt with by a democratic association, seek always to have that matter dealt with by the smallest association that can deal with it satisfactorily.”