Today is the Optional Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes and the World Day of the Sick.
On February 11th, 1858, Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year-old peasant girl from Lourdes, France, admitted, when questioned by her mother, that she had seen a “lady” in the cave of Massabielle, about a mile from the town, while she was gathering firewood with her sister and a friend. Similar appearances of the “lady” took place on seventeen further occasions that year. On March 25, she was told by the Lady: “I am the Immaculate Conception” (“que soy era immaculada concepciou” in the local dialect). In 1860 the local bishop finally declared that “The Virgin Mary did appear indeed to Bernadette Soubirous.” Pope Pius IX authorized the local bishop to permit the veneration of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes in 1862. The visionary was canonized as a saint after her death in 1879, and many Catholics believe her apparitions to have been of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The verity of the apparitions of Lourdes is not an article of faith for Catholics; nevertheless all recent Popes have visited the Marian shine. Although never formally encouraged by the Church, water from the spring has become a focus of devotion to the Virgin Mary at Lourdes. Since the apparitions, many people have claimed to have been cured by drinking or bathing in the water from the shrine, and the Lourdes authorities provide it free of charge to any who ask for it. (The parish that Liz Ellen and I belonged to when we were finishing out high school in Slidell, Louisiana was Our Lady of Lourdes, and each spring they would hold the Lourde’s Fair, which we always thought to be an odd name.) The World Day of the Sick is a feast day of the Roman Catholic Church which was instituted on May 13th, 1992 by Pope John Paul II. The Pope had written a great deal on the topic of suffering and believed that it was very much a salvific and redeeming process through Christ, as he indicated in his apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris (1984). Beginning on February 11th, 1993, it is celebrated every year on the commemoration of Our Lady of Lourdes, for all believers seeks to be “a special time of prayer and sharing, of offering one’s suffering”. In 2013 Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation during this feast day, and he cited his declining health as his reason for retiring.
I neglected to mention in yesterday’s Daily Update that on leaving the casino after work I had picked up a pack of cards for Liz Ellen.
Last night our LSU Lady Tigers beat the Lady Oklahoma State Lady Cowgirls in their College Softball game by the score of 14 to 2, and lost the second game of the College Softball double-header to the Penn State Lady Lions by the score of 3 to 7. And our New Orleans Pelicans won their NBA game with the Minnesota Timberwolves by the score of 122 to 106.
I woke up with my headache, and did my Book Devotional Reading. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. At the Pre-Shift Meeting I won a $10.00 food comp. When we went onto the casino floor, Richard was on Macau Mini Baccarat; when they closed his table he became the Relief Dealer for the Sit-Down Blackjack table, another Blackjack table, and the Three Card Blackjack table. I was the Relief Dealer for Macau Mini Baccarat, Mini Baccarat, and Pai Gow; when the Macau Mini Baccarat table closed I added the Four Card Poker table to my relief string.
Once we arrived home from work I set up my medications for next week (I have two prescriptions to renew on Monday) and did my store list for Richard. I then read the morning paper while Richard paid bills. I left the house for the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration, and Richard soon afterwards left the house to go to Wal-Mart. During my Hour I started reading the February 6th, 2017 issue of my Jesuit America magazine. I then got gas for my car at Valero, and while eating my lunch at McDonald’s I finished reading What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe via Kindle on my Tablet, and decided not to go to Mass. I came home and did my Book Review for this weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts for What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe, and plugged the bills Richard had paid into my Checkbook Pro app. And I will now finish this Daily Update and get ready for bed; our #5 LSU Lady Tigers will play Home College Softball games with the McNeese Lady Cowboys and the Penn State Lady Lions, and our LSU Tigers (9-14, 1-10) will be playing a Home College Basketball game with the Arkansas Razorbacks (17-6, 6-4); I will record the scores of the games in Sunday’s Daily Update.
Tomorrow is the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. With no Saints to honor, we note that tomorrow is the Celebration of Lincoln’s Birthday, which occurred on tomorrow’s date in 1809. It is also Darwin Day, celebrating the great naturalist’s birthday (also in 1809). And tomorrow is Red Hand Day, the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers. We will work our eight hours at the casino, and I might go to bed early after I eat lunch. Our LSU Lady Tigers will play a Home College Softball game against the Oklahoma State Lady Cowgirls, and our New Orleans Pelicans (21-33, 2-6) will play an Away NBA game with the Sacramento Kings (20-32, 3-5).
Our Parting Quote comes to us this Saturday afternoon from Peter Benchley, American author. Born in 1940 in New York City, he was the son of author Nathaniel Benchley (died 1981) and grandson of Algonquin Round Table founder Robert Benchley (died 1945). His younger brother, Nat Benchley, is a writer and actor. After graduating from Harvard University, he worked for The Washington Post, then as an editor at Newsweek and a speechwriter in the White House for President Lyndon Johnson. Doubleday editor Tom Congdon saw some of Benchley’s articles and invited him to lunch to discuss some ideas for books. Congdon was not impressed by Benchley’s proposals for non-fiction but was interested in his idea of a novel about a great white shark terrorizing a beach resort. The idea was inspired by the several great white sharks caught in the 1960s off Long Island and Block Island by the Montauk charter boat captain Frank Mundus. Congdon offered Benchley an advance of $1,000 leading to the novelist submitting the first 100 pages. Much of the work had to be rewritten as the publisher was not happy with the initial tone. Benchley worked by winter in a room above a furnace company in Pennington, New Jersey, and in the summer in a converted turkey coop in Stonington, Connecticut. Jaws was published in 1974 and became a great success, staying on the bestseller list for some 44 weeks. Steven Spielberg has said that he initially found many of the characters unsympathetic and wanted the shark to win. Book critics such as Michael Rogers of Rolling Stone Magazine shared the sentiment but the book struck a chord with readers. Benchley co-wrote the screenplay with Carl Gottlieb (along with the uncredited Howard Sackler and John Milius, who provided the first draft of the memorable USS Indianapolis speech) for the Spielberg film released in 1975. Benchley made a cameo appearance in the film as a news reporter on the beach. The film, starring Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw, was released in the summer season, traditionally considered to be the graveyard season for films. However, Universal Studios decided to break tradition by releasing the movie with extensive television advertising. Tautly edited by Verna Fields, featuring an ominous score by John Williams and infused with such an air of understated menace by director Steven Spielberg that he was hailed as the heir apparent to “Master of Suspense” Alfred Hitchcock, Jaws became the first movie to gross $100 million at the United States box office. It eventually grossed $450 million worldwide. The film spawned three sequels, none of which matched the success of the original critically or commercially, and two video games (Jaws in 1987 and Jaws Unleashed in 2006) which both met with mostly negative critical attention. The film was also adapted into a theme park attraction at Universal Studios Florida (in Orlando, Florida and Hollywood, California), and two musicals: JAWS The Musical!, which premiered in the summer of 2004 at the Minnesota Fringe Festival; and Giant Killer Shark: The Musical, which premiered in the summer of 2006 at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Benchley estimated that he earned enough from book sales, film rights and magazine / book club syndication from Jaws to be able to work independently as a film writer for ten years. His reasonably successful second novel, The Deep, was about a honeymooning couple discovering two sunken treasures on the Bermuda reefs (17th century Spanish gold and a fortune in World War Two-era morphine) who are subsequently targeted by a drug syndicate. This 1976 novel is based on Benchley’s chance meeting in Bermuda with diver Teddy Tucker while writing a story for National Geographic. He co-wrote the screenplay for the 1977 film release, along with Tracy Keenan Wynn and an uncredited Tom Mankiewicz. Directed by Peter Yates and starring Robert Shaw, Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset, The Deep was a moderate success, and one of the Top 10 highest grossing films in the United States in 1977, though its box office tally fell well short of Jaws. The Island, published in 1979, was a story of descendants of 17th century pirates who terrorize pleasure craft in the Caribbean, leading to the Bermuda Triangle mystery. Benchley again wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation. But the movie version of The Island, starring Michael Caine and co-starring David Warner, failed at the box office when released in 1980. During the 1980s he wrote three novels that did not sell as well as his previous works. However, Girl of the Sea of Cortez, a beguiling John Steinbeck-type fable about man’s complicated relationship with the sea, was far and away his best reviewed book and attracted a considerable cult following its publication. Girl of the Sea of Cortez signposted Benchley’s growing interest in ecological issues and anticipated his future role as an impassioned and intelligent defender of the importance of redressing the current imbalance between human activities and the marine environment. Q Clearance, published in 1986, was written from his experience as a staffer in the Johnson White House. Rummies (aka Lush), which appeared in 1989, was a semi-autobiographical work, loosely inspired by the Benchley family’s history of alcohol abuse. He returned to nautical themes in 1991′s Beast, written about a giant squid threatening Bermuda. Beast was brought to the small screen as a made for TV movie in 1996, under the slightly altered title The Beast. His next novel, White Shark, was published in 1994. This story of a Nazi-created genetically engineered shark/human hybrid failed to achieve popular or critical success. In 1999 the television show Peter Benchley’s Amazon was created, about a group of plane crash survivors in the middle of a vast jungle. In the last decade of his career he wrote non-fiction works about the sea and about sharks advocating their conservation. Among these was his book entitled Shark Trouble, which illustrated how hype and news sensationalism could help undermine the public’s need to understand marine ecosystems and the potential negative consequences as humans interact with the ecosystems. This work, which had editions in 2001 and 2003, was written to help a post-Jaws public to more fully understand “the sea in all its beauty, mystery, and power.” It detailed the ways in which man seemed to have become more of an aggressor in his relationship with sharks, acting out of ignorance and greed as several of the species have become increasingly threatened by overfishing (died 2006): “I don’t believe in blaming inanimate objects for anything.”