Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Bernardine of Siena, Priest (died 1444). We note that today is Armed Forces Day and the day on which the Preakness Stakes is run. (Will this year give us another Triple Crown in horse racing?)
Today’s Saint was born in 1380 at Massa di Carrara, Italy; left orphaned at age six, Bernardine was raised by a pious aunt. On the completion of his education he spent some years in the service of the sick in the hospitals. While he was studying civil and canon law in Siena, he worked in the hospital of Santa Maria della Scala throughout the bubonic plague outbreak of 1400 and even urged other young men to stay and help. He thus caught the plague, of which he nearly died. In 1402 or 1404, he joined the Franciscan order in the strict branch called the Observants. For more than 30 years, he preached all over Italy, and played a great part in the religious revival of the early fifteenth century. Enormous crowds came to hear him speak. It was said that feuds and factionalism were reconciled by his counsel and that miracles took place. Donations to the Holy Name of Jesus (which he preached particularly) increased dramatically. He popularized the use of the three letters of the Holy Name (IHS) on the background of a blazing sun to displace both popular pagan symbols and seals of political factions like the Guelphs and Ghibellines in public spaces. Furthermore, “bonfires of vanities” were held at his sermon sites, where people were encouraged to burn objects of temptation. In 1425 he preached every day for seven weeks in Siena. In 1427 he was summoned to Rome to stand trial on charges of heresy; he was found innocent, and he impressed Pope Martin V sufficiently that Martin requested he preach in Rome, whereupon he preached every day for 80 days. A typical sermon would last for an hour long, but some lasted for more than four. His zeal was such that he would prepare up to four drafts of a sermon before starting to speak. That same year, he was offered the bishopric of Siena, but declined in order to maintain his monastic and evangelical activities. In 1431, he toured Tuscany, Lombardy, Romagna, and Ancona before returning to Siena to prevent a war against Florence. Also in 1431, he declined the bishopric of Ferrara, and in 1435 he declined the bishopric of Urbino. The Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund sought Bernardine’s counsel and intercession and the future saint accompanied him to Rome in 1433 for his coronation. Soon after he withdrew again to Capriola to compose a series of sermons. He resumed his missionary labours in 1436, but was forced to abandon them in the following year, when he became vicar-general of the Observant branch of the Franciscans in Italy. In 1438 Bernardine was elevated to vicar-general of the Franciscan Order in Italy. This cut back his opportunities to preach, but he continued to speak to the public when he could. Having in 1442 persuaded the pope to accept his resignation as vicar-general so that he might give himself more undividedly to preaching, he resumed his missionary labours. Despite a Papal Bull issued by Eugene IV in 1443 and which charged Bernardine to preach the indulgence for the Crusade against the Turks, there is no record of his having done so. In 1444, notwithstanding his increasing infirmities, Bernardine, desirous that there should be no part of Italy which had not heard his voice, set out to the Kingdom of Naples. He died that year at L’Aquila, in the Abruzzi. According to the tradition, his grave continued to leak blood until two factions of the city achieved reconciliation. Reports of miracles attributed to him multiplied rapidly and he was canonized in 1450, only six years after his death, by Pope Nicholas V. He is the Patron Saint of advertisers and those in public relations work, and his aid is invoked against chest problems and gambling addictions. (There is no truth to the rumor that the three letters of the Holy Name (IHS) actually stand for Jesus’s high school.) Turning to the secular world, as today is the Third Saturday in May, today is Armed Forces Day. It falls near the end of Armed Forces Week, which begins on the second Saturday of May and ends on the third Sunday of May. The day was created in 1949 to honor Americans serving in the five U.S. military branches (the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard) following the consolidation of the military services in the Department of Defense. It was intended to replace the separate Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Days, but observance of these days, especially within each particular service, continues to this day. Because of their unique training schedules, National Guard and Reserve units may celebrate Armed Forces Day / Week over any period in May. Also held every year on the Third Saturday in May is the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. This year is the 142nd “Run for the Black-Eyed Susans”; a blanket of Black-Eyed Susans (the state flower of Maryland) is draped on the winning horse’s neck. The Preakness is the second leg in American thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown series and almost always attracts the Kentucky Derby winner (Almost Dancing), some of the other horses that ran in the Derby, and often a few horses that did not start in the Derby. (It also attracts those who wish a chance to sing “Maryland, My Maryland”. The third verse is the one sung, as the one least objectionable in certain circles; the song is a Confederate battle hymn, and contains lyrics such as “Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum!”)
Last night at the NCAA College Softball Regional in Baton Rouge our #19 LSU Lady Tigers beat the Fairfield Lady Stags by the score of 2 to 1, and our #6 LSU Tigers won the second game of their Away College Baseball series with the #13 Mississippi State Bulldogs by the score of 11 to 5.
On waking up to get ready for work I posted to Facebook that today was Armed Forces Day, and posted to Facebook that today was the 142nd Running of the Preakness Stakes. I did my Book Devotional Reading, ironed my casino shirt du jour, and put out the flag in honor of Armed Forces Day. When we left for work we noted that the lights on the driveway side of the house now work great (they work via motion sensors). We stopped at the ATM for cash, and I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Second Day of my Ascension Novena (which is pegged to Ascension on what would otherwise be the Seventh Sunday of Easter, not on Ascension Thursday). At the Pre-Shift meeting my friend Sue won a Golden Ticket (more anon). When we headed out on the casino floor, Richard was on Mini Baccarat and I was on Pai Gow; on my table I taught a very nice young man how to play Pai Gow, and he was very appreciative of us. I asked Sue if she would sell me her Golden Ticket, and she agreed to for the price of $30.00. (The ticket is good for one to be the first one out on any given day, once they start working the Early Out list, and is good for a month; and in precisely one month, I will be leaving for my vacation to see Liz Ellen in Kentucky.)
On our way home I continued 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 got home I set up my medications for next week (I have no prescriptions to renew) and made out my storelist for Richard; meanwhile, he paid the bills (our paychecks hit the bank last night). I read the morning paper, and Richard left for Wal-Mart to do the grocery shopping and to get a new wall mount for the television set we had gotten for Butch. I headed to the Adoration Chapel and did my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration; during my Hour I started reading the May / June 2017 issue of The Bible Today. When I got home I plugged the bills Richard had paid into my Checkbook Pro app, then I got busy finishing up today’s Daily Update; when I finish, I will do some reading, then I will go to sleep for the duration. At the NCAA College Softball Regional in Baton Rouge our #19 LSU Lady Tigers are now playing the UL – Lafayette Lady Ragin Cajuns (at last report, the game was in a weather delay). And our #6 LSU Tigers (38-17, 20-9) will be playing their last game of the regular season as they complete the Away College Baseball series with the #13 Mississippi State Bulldogs (34-21, 17-12)
Tomorrow is the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Rogation Sunday) (Alleluia!), Optional Memorial of Saint Eugene de Mazenod, Bishop (died 1861), the Optional Memorial of Saint Cristóbal Magallanes Jara, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (died 1927), and the Optional Memorial of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, Layman and Martyr (died 1943). Tomorrow is the birthday of my Internet friend Denise in North Carolina (1954), and of my kids’ friend Kyran, one of the Assembled (1985). Richard and I will work our eight hours at the casino, and in the afternoon I plan to watch one or two MTS3K episodes. Our #19 LSU Lady Tigers will be playing an as-yet unnamed opponent at the NCAA College Softball Regional in Baton Rouge, and our #6 LSU Tigers will see where they are seeded and when and who they will play in the SEC College Baseball Tournament, which will start on Wednesday, May 24th.
Our Parting Quote on this Saturday afternoon comes to us from Ray Manzarek, American musician, singer, producer, and film director. Born as Raymond Manzarek in 1939 in Chicago, Illinois, he took private piano lessons, but was more interested in playing power forward or center on his high school team; he quit the team only when his coach insisted that he play guard or not at all. He graduated from DePaul University with a degree in economics and played keyboard and vocals in many shows at the school. From 1962 to 1965 he studied in the Department of Cinematography at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he met film student Jim Morrison. At UCLA, he also met Dorothy Fujikawa. At the time Manzarek was in a band called Rick and the Ravens with his brothers Rick and Jim. Forty days after finishing film school, thinking they had gone their separate ways, Manzarek and Morrison met by chance on Venice Beach in California. Morrison said he had written some songs, and Manzarek expressed an interest in hearing them, whereupon Morrison sang a rough version of “Moonlight Drive”. Manzarek liked the songs and co-founded the Doors with Morrison at that moment. Manzarek met drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger at a Transcendental Meditation lecture and brought them into the band. In January 1966 the Doors became the house band at the London Fog on the Sunset Strip. The same day the Doors were fired from the London Fog, they were hired to be the house band of the Whisky a Go Go. Their first performance at the Whisky was with the group Them. The Doors’ first recording contract was with Columbia Records. After a few months of inactivity, they learned they were on Columbia’s drop list. At that point, they asked to be released from their contract. After a few months of live gigs, Jac Holzman “rediscovered” the Doors and signed them to Elektra Records in 1966, and the band reached stardom the next year. Also in 1967 Manzarek and Fujikawa were married, with Morrison and his long time companion Pamela Courson as witnesses. The Doors lacked a bassist, so Manzarek usually played the bass parts on a Fender Rhodes PianoBass. His signature sound is that of the Vox Continental combo organ, an instrument used by many other psychedelic rock bands of the era. He later used a Gibson G-101 Kalamazoo combo organ (which looks like a Farfisa) because the Continental’s plastic keys frequently broke, according to Manzarek. He also occasionally sang for the Doors, including the live recording “Close To You” and on the B-side of “Love Her Madly,” “You Need Meat (Don’t Go No Further).” He also sang on the last two Doors albums, recorded after Morrison’s 1971 death, Other Voices and Full Circle. Additionally, he provided one of several guitar parts on the song “Been Down So Long.” Manzarek played in several groups after the Doors officially disbanded in 1973, including Nite City. He recorded a rock adaptation of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana with Philip Glass, played with Iggy Pop, backed one track on the eponymous 1987 album Echo & the Bunnymen, backed San Francisco poet Michael McClure’s poetry readings, and did improvisational composition with poet Michael C. Ford. He also worked extensively with “Hearts of Fire” screenwriter and former SRC front man Scott Richardson on a series of spoken word and blues recordings entitled “Tornado Souvenirs”. He produced Los Angeles, the 1980 inaugural album of the punk band X, also contributing on keyboards. His memoir, Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors, was published in 1998. In 2000 a collaboration poetry album entitled Freshly Dug was released with British singer, poet, actor and pioneer Punk rocker Darryl Read. Read had previously worked with Manzarek on the Beat Existentialist album in 1994, and their last poetical and musical collaboration was in 2007 with the album Bleeding Paradise. Also in 2000 Manzarek co-wrote and directed the film Love Her Madly, which was credited to a story idea by Jim Morrison. The film was shown at the closing night of the 2004 Santa Cruz Film Festival, but otherwise received limited distribution and critical review. In the meantime his book The Poet in Exile (2001) was a novel exploring the urban legend that Jim Morrison may have faked his death. In 2006 he collaborated with composer and trumpeter Bal. The album that resulted, Atonal Head, is an exploration in the realm of electronica. The two musicians integrated jazz, rock, ethnic and classical music into their computer-based creations. Manzarek’s second novel, Snake Moon, released in April 2006, is a Civil War ghost story. On August 4th, 2007, Manzarek hosted a program on BBC Radio 2 about the 40th anniversary of the recording of “Light My Fire” and the group’s musical and spiritual influences. In April 2009 Manzarek and Robby Krieger appeared as special guests for Daryl Hall’s monthly concert webcast Live From Daryl’s House. They performed several Doors tunes (“People Are Strange”, “The Crystal Ship”, “Roadhouse Blues” and “Break on Through (To the Other Side)”) with Hall providing lead vocals. After living many years in Hollywood, Manzarek moved to Napa County, California, to a house that he remodeled extensively. In his last years he played with local bands in the Napa area. In 2009 Manzarek collaborated with “Weird Al” Yankovic, by playing keyboards on the single “Craigslist”, which is a pastiche of The Doors. Manzarek was a co-producer on a few tracks for Universal Recording artist Michael Barber. In May 2010 Manzarek recorded with slide guitarist Roy Rogers in Studio D in Sausalito. Their album, Translucent Blues, released in mid-2011, was ranked No. 3 on the Top 100 Roots Rock Albums of 2011 by The Roots Music Report. In February 2012 Manzarek recorded Breakn’ a Sweat with DJ Skrillex and his fellow members Robby Krieger and John Densmore. On the day of Manzarek’s death “Weird Al” Yankovic published a personal video of his 2009 studio session with Manzarek, which he said had been an “extreme honor” and “one of the absolute high points of my life” (died 2013): “I’m just a ’60s kind of guy. It’s all love and peace. People say all my playing still sounds like The Doors, but did I sound like The Doors or did The Doors sound like me?”