Daily Update: Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

5th Sunday of Lent and Francis of Paola and 04-02 - International Children's Book Day

Today is the Fifth Sunday of Lent and the Optional Memorial of Saint Francis of Paola, Hermit (died 1507). Today is also International Children’s’ Book Day. And it was on this date that I met my friend Nedra in Tennessee again, after losing track of her in the late 1970s (2002).

Our Gospel Reading for the Fifth Sunday of Advent (Year 1) is from John 11:1-45, the passage that deals with the resurrection of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha of Bethany; Jesus tells Martha, “”I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”  Today’s Saint was born in 1416 at Paola, Calabria (part of modern Italy). His parents were childless for many years, but following prayers for the intercession of Saint Francis of Assisi, they had three children, with Francis being the oldest. Following a pilgrimage in his teens to Rome and Assisi in Italy, he became a hermit in a cave near Paola. Before he was twenty years old he began to attract followers; by the 1450’s the followers had become so numerous that he established a Rule for them and sought Church approval. This was the founding of the Hermits of Saint Francis of Assisi, who were approved by the Holy See in 1474. In 1492 they were renamed the Franciscan Order of Minim Friars, which means they count themselves the least of the family of God. He was reported to be a prophet and a miracle worker, with the ability to read minds. In 1464 Francis wanted to cross the Straits of Messina to reach Sicily, but a boatman refused to take him. Francis laid his cloak on the water, tied one end to his staff to make a sail, and sailed across with his companions. Franz Liszt wrote a piece of music inspired by the incident. He was the defender of the poor and oppressed. He gave unwanted counsel and admonitions to King Ferdinand of Naples and his sons, and traveled to Paris at the request of Pope Sixtus IV to help Louis XI prepare for death. He used this position to influence the course of national politics, helping restore peace between France and Brittany by advising a marriage between the ruling families, and restoring peace between France and Spain by persuading Louis XI to return some disputed land. He is the Patron Saint of Calabria, of Panama, and of boatmen, mariners, and naval officers. Today is also International Children’s Book Day. The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) is a non-profit organization which represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together; since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, April 2nd, International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books. Each year a different National Section of IBBY has the opportunity to be the international sponsor of ICBD. It decides upon a theme and invites a prominent author from the host country to write a message to the children of the world and a well-known illustrator to design a poster. These materials are used in different ways to promote books and reading. This year the sponsor is IBBY Russia, and the theme for 2017 is Let Us Grow With the Book. So read a children’s book to a child today! (Fortunately, since I am visiting my granddaughter, who is a month shy of being two years old, that will be easy for me to do.)  And it was on this date that I met my friend Nedra in Tennessee again, after losing track of her in the late 1970s (2002).

I woke up at 8:30 am at Matthew and Callie’s house in South Carolina, and was told we would be leaving for brunch at 9:30 am. I did my Book Devotional Reading, and we left in two vehicles and went down to Charleston to the Magnolias Restaurant, where we had a very good brunch. We walked with the baby to the Tervis Tumbler outlet, then back to the parking lot. The kids headed home with the baby, and Richard and I went to the Charleston Museum, which is the oldest museum in America.

Once we got back home at 2:30 pm, I continued reading Sights Unseen by Kaye Gibbons. Our #10 LSU Lady Tigers won their College Softball game with the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs by the score of 4 to 1; our #10 LSU Lady Tigers (31-7, 7-2) will next play a College Softball game with the #9 Alabama Lady Crimson Tide (32-6, 8-4) on Friday, April 7th. I finished reading Sights Unseen by Kaye Gibbons and did my book review for the book for this Weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Richard of Chichester, Bishop (died 1253). It is also the birthday of my first cousin Chris in California (1956). Richard and I will be leaving South Carolina and heading back to Louisiana

Our Parting Quote this evening of the Fifth Sunday of Lent \ comes to us from Robert H. Schuller, American Christian televangelist, pastor, motivational speaker, and author. Born in 1926 in Alton, Iowa, he was the youngest of five children. All of his grandparents were Dutch immigrants, and he was raised on his parents’ farm near Newkirk, Iowa, in a small-knit community of Dutch-Americans, without running water. As a 6 month old infant, he received his baptism at a Reformed Church. In 1931, just weeks before his 5th birthday, a visiting uncle, who was a minister, told him to be an evangelist. Schuller called it the “single most defining moment of my early life.” After graduating from high school in Newkirk, Iowa, in 1944, Schuller studied at Hope College, located in Holland, Michigan, and received a Master of Divinity degree from Western Theological Seminary, which followed the theological tradition and Christian practice of John Calvin, in 1950. He was ordained as a minister in the Reformed Church in America. Also in 1950 Schuller married Arvella De Haan (died 2014), a church organist. He worked at Ivanhoe Reformed Church in Riverdale, Illinois, before moving to Garden Grove, California. There, he opened the Garden Grove Community Church, in 1955, in a drive-in movie theater. He also rented a 300-seat former Baptist church, about four miles from the drive-in theater. Schuller presided at a service in the chapel at 9:30 on Sunday mornings and then drove his organ to the drive-in to preside at another service. Schuller focused on what he believed are the positive aspects of the Christian faith. He deliberately avoided condemning people for sin, believing that Jesus “met needs before touting creeds”. Once in a relationship with God, Schuller emphasized, someone who is sowing positive faith in his heart and actions will discover that the by-product is a reduction of sin. Schuller encouraged Christians and non-Christians to achieve great things through God and to believe in their dreams. As the size of the congregations grew, Schuller purchased 10 acres of land at 12141 Lewis Street in Garden Grove for a “walk-in, drive-in” church, serving both congregations. Ground was broken September 10th, 1958, for construction of the new church designed by international architect Richard Neutra. The church was completed in 1961, at a cost of $3,000,000. The dedication service was held November 5th, 1961. The design of the new church building enabled Schuller to preach his sermons to worshipers in 500 cars, as well as to members of the congregation inside the church. He wrote his first book, Way to the Good Life, in 1963. A “Tower of Hope” building was added on the north side of the drive-in church building in 1968; the Tower of Hope rose 13 stories (approximately 130 to 150 feet in the air, the highest structure in Orange County at that time), and was topped by an illuminated cross that was 90 feet tall. That same year Schuller purchased the 10-acre walnut grove that bordered the north side of the Garden Grove Community Church for the construction of the much larger “Crystal Cathedral”, designed by architect Philip Johnson. The church, which has glass walls and ceiling, was dedicated on September 14th, 1980. Schuller’s wife became instrumental in developing the music department at the Crystal Cathedral. As the Crystal Cathedral’s founding pastor, Schuller was seen and heard internationally on Sundays on the world’s most widely watched hour-long church service, the Hour of Power (created and produced by his wife for over 40 years), 1500 episodes of which were recorded. The congregation of the Crystal Cathedral added the Prayer Spire in 1990. Schuller wrote his last book, Don’t Throw Away Tomorrow, in 2005. On January 22nd, 2006, Schuller’s son, Robert A. Schuller, assumed the role of senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral. On October 25th, 2008, however, he resigned. His father cited “a lack of shared vision” as the cause. The ministry then opened the pulpit to a variety of notable Christian speakers. On June 11th, 2009, Schuller announced that the church’s leadership would pass to his eldest daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman. who changed the format of the service to a more contemporary style with praise and worship bands in place of the traditional choir and organ. On July 11th, 2010, he announced that he was retiring as principal pastor of the Crystal Cathedral and would become chairman of the church’s board of directors. After a year as interim senior pastor, Sheila Schuller Coleman was elevated to senior pastor in July 2010. On October 18th, 2010, Coleman announced that the Crystal Cathedral was seeking bankruptcy protection, in the midst of what became known as the “Great Recession”. On March 10, 2012, it was announced that Schuller and his wife, had resigned from the church’s board. The following day, March 11, 2012, Coleman announced at the morning service that she was leaving the church, where attendance had dwindled to some 400 worshipers. With the new pastor, the original format for services was restored, and attendance increased; but later that year the Crystal Cathedral building was sold to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Orange, On January 24th, 2013, the Crystal Cathedral’s board of directors voted to make Bobby Schuller, the son of Robert A. Schuller, the new pastor for the Hour of Power television program as well as a non-voting member of the board. The Crystal Cathedral congregation moved to the nearby Shepherd’s Grove, the campus of the former St. Callistus Church, in July 2013, with the former congregation of St. Callistus being moved to the Crystal Cathedral campus. The diocese anticipates that the renovations to the Crystal Cathedral will be complete in 2017, at which time its bishop will solemnly dedicate the former Crystal Cathedral building as Christ Cathedral, and St. Callistus parish will assume that name. In late August 2013 Schuller was diagnosed with esophageal cancer that had spread to the lymph nodes. His wife died the next year (died 2015): “I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed.”

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