Today is a Major Rogation Day in the Church; it is also the Feast Saint Mark, Evangelist (died c. 68) and the Optional Memorial of Saint Pedro de San José Betancur, Founder (died 1667). And today is World Penguin Day.
As today is the 25th of April, this date is a Major Rogation Day in the Church, unless this date is Easter (in which case the Major Rogation Day is transferred to April 27th). The word “rogation” comes from the Latin rogare,which means “to ask,” and the Rogation Days are four days set apart to bless the fields and to ask for God’s mercy on all of creation. The Major Rogation, which has no connection with the feast of Saint Mark (fixed for this date much later) seems to be of very early date and to have been introduced to counteract the ancient Robigalia, on which the pagans held processions and supplications to their gods. Saint Gregory the Great (d. 604) regulated the already existing custom. (The Minor Rogation Days are the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday preceding Ascension Thursday.) Saint Mark is believed to be the young man who ran away when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51-52), and the “John whose other name was Mark” (Acts 12:25). He was a disciple of Saint Peter the Apostle who traveled with him to Rome, and was referred to as “my son Mark” by the first Pope. He went on a missionary journey with his cousin Barnabas and the Apostle Paul, but left before the journey was complete to return to Jerusalem; when Barnabas suggesting taking Mark along on a later trip, St. Paul refused on account of the earlier desertion, and Barnabas went on the journey with Mark instead of Paul. He evangelized in Alexandria, Egypt, established the Church there, served as its first bishop, founded the first famous Christian school, and is credited as the author of the earliest canonical Gospel; tradition holds that he wrote down the preachings of St. Peter. Tradition also holds that he was martyred by having a rope tied around his neck, and being dragged in the city streets by the rope until he was dead. In 828, relics believed to be the body of St. Mark were taken from Alexandria by two Venetian merchants and taken to Venice, where the Byzantine Theodore of Amasea had previously been the patron saint. A basilica was built there to house the relics. However, Coptic Christians believe that the head of the saint remained in Alexandria. Saint Mark is the Patron Saint of Egypt, of Venice, and of Barristers. On this day we also honor Saint Pedro de San José Betancur, Founder (died 1667). Born in 1626 in Vilaflor, Tenerife, he spent some time in a little cave in the arid region near the present-day town of El Médano (municipality of Granadilla de Abona). He worked as a shepherd until age 24, when in 1649 he began to make his way to Guatemala, hoping to connect with a relative engaged in government service there. By the time he reached Havana, Cuba, he was out of money and worked to earn his way to Guatemala City the following year. When he arrived he was so destitute that he joined the bread line which the Franciscans had established. He fell sick almost immediately but was able to recover his health. As a result of his illness and recovery, he very much wanted to become a priest and soon enrolled in the local Jesuit college (Jesuit College of San Borgia) in hopes of studying for the priesthood. No matter how hard he tried, however, he could not master the material, and thus withdrew from the school. Unable to receive holy orders, he became a Franciscan tertiary in the convent of Costa Rica in Antigua Guatemala, and took the name Peter of Saint Joseph. He visited hospitals, jails, the unemployed, and the young. Three years later, he opened Our Lady of Bethlehem, a hospital for the convalescent poor. Soon after there was a shelter for the homeless, schools for the poor, an oratory, and an inn for priests. He was imitated by other tertiaries and soon wrote up a rule which was adopted by the women who were involved in teaching the children. This led to the formation of a new religious order: la Orden de los Bethlemitas y de las Bethlemitas, subsequently recognized and approved by the Holy See. He is sometimes credited with originating the Christmas Eve posadas procession in which people representing Mary and Joseph seek a night’s lodging from their neighbors. The custom soon spread to Mexico and other Central American countries. He was canonized in 2002 and is credited as being the first Canarian and Guatemalan saint; he is the Patron Saint of Central America, of the Canary Islands, and of those who are homeless. And today is World Penguin Day. Penguins are aquatic flightless birds that live almost exclusively (except for Galapagoes penguins) in the Southern Hemisphere. Highly adapted for life in the water, penguins have countershaded dark and white plumage, and their wings have evolved into flippers. Most penguins feed on krill, fish, squid and other forms of sealife caught while swimming underwater. They spend about half of their lives on land and half in the oceans. Penguins seem to have no special fear of humans, and have approached groups of explorers without hesitation. In modern culture, they are seen in animated movies and cartoons, nature documentaries, and in the cartoon world of Bloom County by Berkeley Breathed (found now on Facebook), where one of the major characters is Opus the Penguin. So hug a penguin today!
When I woke up to get ready for work I posted to Facebook that today was World Penguin Day. I did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Once we clocked in at the casino Richard was on Three Card Poker; I was the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat and Pai Gow, and added a Blackjack table to my string (once) and added Richard’s Three Card Poker table to my string (once). On my breaks I started reading 13 Things that Don’t Make Sense: The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries of Our Time by Michael Brooks via Kindle on my tablet.
When we clocked out, I had a voice-mail message from Lele. I picked up a thirty-deck pack of cards to send to Liz Ellen, and at the Pharmacy I picked up two prescriptions. Lele’s message was that she cancelled her appointment in Lafayette for Thursday, but will need a ride to Lafayette next Thursday, and I called her to let her know that we would take her to her appointment on Thursday of next week. I then continued reading on our way home, and Richard stopped at Wal-Mart for some groceries.
Once home from work I ate my lunch salad and read the morning paper. I then did a couple of Advance Daily Update Drafts, then I finished reading The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin. I then did my Book Review for this weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts for The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin. After Jeopardy! we watched MST3k Episode 814 Riding with Death (Gemini Man: “Smithereens” and “Buffalo Bill Rides Again”, with singer Jim Stafford as a friendly but dumb trucker and race-car driver). We then ate dinner (barbecued chicken, baked beans, and whole boiled potatoes), and watched MST3K Episode 815 Agent for H.A.R.M.Our #16 LSU Lady Tigers won their Home College Softball game with the South Alabama Lady Jaguars by the score of 6 to 0; our Lady Tigers will start a three game home College Softball series with the Missouri Lady Tigers on Friday. And our #11 LSU Tigers are playing an Away College Baseball game with the Tulane Green Wave.
With no Saints to honor tomorrow, we will note that on tomorrow’s date in 1865 John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, was shot and fatally wounded by his pursuers. The New Moon will arrive tomorrow at 8:18 am. I will do my laundry and the Weekly Computer Maintenance; Richard will go to his 9:30 am appointment in Mamou with our dentist, then head to Baton Rouge to take care of some Butch stuff, and I will get my hair cut.
Our Parting Quote on this Tuesday evening comes to us from Stefanie Zweig, German journalist and author. Born in 1932 in Leobschütz, now Głubczyce, Poland. In 1938 her parents fled to Africa in 1938 to escape persecution in Nazi Germany. They went from a prosperous urban life in Breslau (now Wrocław) to a poor farm in Kenya; Zweig was five years old. Her father became a soldier in the British arming during World War II. In 1941 the family received a postcard from Zweig’s grandmother through the Red Cross saying, “We are very excited, we are going to Poland tomorrow”. Zweig’s father explained that the grandmother was being sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, which was operated by the German occupiers of Poland. She and many others of Zweig’s family were murdered there. Zweig grew up speaking mostly English and Swahili (only speaking German at home with her parents) and attended an English boarding school while in Kenya, which was a British colony at the time. After the war, in 1947 the family moved back to Germany. The family’s original home had been in Upper Silesia, which was in the east of prewar Germany. After the war most of the region became part of Poland and the German residents had to move. The family settled in Frankfurt, where Zweig’s father had been offered a position as a judge as part of the “denazification” of the judicial system in postwar Germany; only Germans without connections to the Nazi party could serve as judges. Zweig was enrolled in the Schiller School in Frankfurt. Having become primarily an English speaker in Kenya, she needed to relearn German. After her graduation in 1953 Zweig started a career as a journalist. She worked for a time as an intern and then an editor for the Offenbach section of Abendpost, a tabloid newspaper which served the Frankfurt region. From 1959–1988 Zweig worked in Frankfurt for Abendpost and its successor Abendpost / Nachtausgabe. She directed the arts section (“Feuilleton”) from 1963. Zweig wrote a number of children’s books, commencing with Eltern sind auch Menschen (Parents are People Too) in 1978. Her first African novel was the novel for young adults Ein Mundvoll Erde (A Mouthful of Earth) in 1980. It described an infatuation with a Kĩkũyũ boy; the book won several awards, including the Glass Globe of the Royal Dutch Geographical Society. Abendpost / Nachtausgabe folded in 1988, after which Zweig became a freelance journalist and writer. Nirgendwo in Afrika (Nowhere in Africa) appeared in 1995. Zweig described it simply as “the story of a courageous father who taught his daughter not to hate.” The autobiographical novel recounted her life in Kenya from their arrival from Germany in 1938 until their return to Germany in 1947. The book was a bestseller in Germany, and launched a writing career that extended over another dozen novels. Zweig’s next novel, Irgendwo in Deutschland (Somewhere in Germany) (1996), was a sequel describing the family’s life in Germany from their return in 1947 until the death of her father from heart failure in 1958. The 2002 film adaptation of Nirgendwo in Afrika was written and directed by Caroline Link. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, the German Film Award for Best Feature Film, and several other prizes. While the film attracted international attention to Zweig, she was not directly involved in its making. Zweig subsequently published the Rothschildallee series of four novels that appeared from 2007 to 2011; Zweig’s family home in Frankfurt had long been on this street. In 2012 she published her memoir, Nirgendwo war Heimat: Mein Leben auf zwei Kontinenten (Nowhere was Home: My Life on Two Continents). In addition to her books, Zweig had continued her work as a journalist, and up to 2013 was writing a column Meine Welt (My World) for the newspaper Frankfurter Neue Presse (died 2014): “Coming back to Germany [in 1947] was a terrible shock for us all, the town was a shambles, and the famine was great, we went to bed hungry, we woke up hungry, and everything else was very strange to me, I had been to English schools, not German schools, and I didn’t know what the people of my age even talked about. I’d always been very interested in literature and all of a sudden I’d come to a country where their literature wasn’t the same as mine. It took me a long time to get settled.”