Today is the third of three Minor Rogation Days in the Catholic Church. Today is the World Day of Prayer for China – Our Lady of Sheshan, Help of Christians. And today is the birthday of Chelsie, one of my daughter’s friends (1988).
This Wednesday is the third of three Minor Rogation Days (the three days before the traditional date of the Feast of the Ascension), and is a day when we ask for the blessings of God upon our crops and our undertakings. The Minor Rogations were introduced by Saint Mamertus, Bishop of Vienne (died c. 475), and were afterwards ordered by the Fifth Council of Orléans (511), and then approved by Leo III (795-816). They were removed from the General Calendar in 1969, but I note them in this weblog. Turning to today’s World Day of Prayer for China, in 1863 the then Superior of the Jesuit community in Shanghai purchased property on the south side of the mountain of Sheshan, and built a retreat house for retired Jesuit Fathers, with a small chapel next door. On March 1st, 1868, the Bishop of Shanghai, Bishop Adrien Languillat, SJ, consecrated the chapel and blessed the image of Our Lady Help of Christians, which was copied from Our Lady of Victory in Paris. During the attack of the Taiping Rebellion (1850 – 1864), the Superior of the Jesuit community in Shanghai, Fr. Gu Zhen Sheng, had promised the Blessed Virgin that if the diocese was spared from attack, he would build a basilica in thanksgiving for Our Lady’s special protection. On April 15th, 1873, Bishop Languillat of Shanghai consecrated the Basilica on the hilltop. Since then, Our Lady of Sheshan has become the special protector of the Diocese of Shanghai. In 1874, Pope Pius IX granted an indulgence for all pilgrims who completed a pilgrimage to the Shrine during the month of May. The statue of Our Lady of Sheshan shows a standing-erect Blessed Virgin Mary carrying a Child Jesus on her head, while his arms are outstretched in a cruciform gesture. At the base is a Chinese dragon, representing the Devil with a trident tail, being crushed and defeated by the Madonna. During the Cultural Revolution, the original statue was destroyed, with only the dragon base remaining. In May 1981 the People’s Government of Shanghai returned the Sheshan Basilica to the Shanghai Catholic Diocese. In April 2000 a new statue was constructed using the old dragon base and was blessed by Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian. In May 2007 Pope Benedict XVI released a Letter to Chinese Catholics, in which he asked that May 24th each year be celebrated as a World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. He chose May 24th because it is the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, who is venerated at the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai. In 2008 a copy of the statue was given to Pope Benedict XVI, who then invoked the Marian title through his Prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan. The pontiff requested that the prayer be recited more devoutly on May 24th, the feast of Mary Help of Christians to whom the Basilica of Sheshan holds under Marian patronage. The Shanghai Government then banned pilgrimages to the sanctuary from neighboring dioceses. On May 24th, 2009, during his Regina Caeli papal address, Pope Benedict XVI designated May 24th, the Feast of Mary Help of Christians, as a day of prayer for Chinese Catholics calling them to renew their fidelity to the Pope as the sole successor of Saint Peter. The Prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan that the Pope asked us to recite is as follows:
Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother,
venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title “Help of Christians,”
the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.
We come before you today to implore your protection.
Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them
along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be
a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.
When you obediently said “yes” in the house of Nazareth,
you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb
and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption.
You willingly and generously co-operated in that work,
allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul,
until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary,
standing beside your Son, Who died that we might live.
From that moment, you became, in a new way,
the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith
and choose to follow in His footsteps by taking up His Cross.
Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed
with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.
Grant that your children may discern at all times,
even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence.
Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China,
who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love.
May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world,
and of the world to Jesus.
In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high,
offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.
Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love,
ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.
Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!
And today is the birthday of my daughter’s friend Chelsie, one of the former Assembled who used to hang out in the back part of the garage with my kids (1988).
Last night in our room at the Hampton Inn in Baton Rouge I developed a migraine headache, and kept waking up wondering if it was a regular headache for which I should take Tylenol, or a migraine for which I should take my migraine meds, and doing neither. I finally took my migraine meds at 6:00 am and at 7:00 am. Richard woke up and went down to breakfast. I woke up at 8:45 am and did my Book Devotional Reading, then went down to eat breakfast and to read the USA Today. I then did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Sixth Day of my Ascension Novena.
Richard left at 12:00 pm to take Butch to his 1:30 pm appointment. I finished reading The Noonday Devil: Acedia, The Unnamed Evil of Our Times by Jean-Charles Nault, Translated by Michael J. Miller, then I did my Book Review of the book for this Weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts. I then started reading A World Without Smells by Lars Lundqvist via Kindle on my tablet. I also continued reading The Mummy: A History of the Extraordinary Practices of Ancient Egypt by E. A. Wallis Budge. Richard returned back to the motel at 3:00 pm from taking Butch to his appointment, and reported that the maintenance people at Butch’s apartment would not put up the TV mount. Richard then made phone calls, and found a handyman to put up the TV mount. At 4:30 pm we watched Jeopardy! At 6:00 pm we went over to Butch’s apartment, where Butch, Nita, and Bill were watching the handyman make a futile search for a second wall stud in the wall. We then went to Acme Oyster Bar for dinner. Nita, Bill, and Butch went back to Butch’s apartment; Richard and I said hello to the cats at PetCo, then headed back to the Hampton Inn at 8:00 pm. At the SEC College Baseball Tournament in Hoover, Alabama, our #6 LSU Tigers (39-17, 21-9) are still playing the Missouri Tigers (36-21, 14-16). I will finish this Daily Update and do some reading before going to sleep.
Tomorrow is the Traditional Date for the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, but where I live, we will celebrate that feast on Sunday. Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor (died 735), the Optional Memorial of Saint Gregory VII, Pope (died 1085), and the Optional Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene of Pazzi, Virgin (died 1607). Tomorrow is also Towel Day (referencing Douglas Adams, author of the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). We will visit with Butch in the morning, then head home, where I need to do my laundry, iron my casino pants, apron, and shirts and shirts, get my salad supplies, and make my lunch salads. At the SEC College Baseball Tournament in Hoover, Alabama, our #6 LSU Tigers (if they win tonight) will play either the Kentucky Wildcats or the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Our Parting Quote this Wednesday evening comes to us from Haynes Johnson, American journalist, best-selling author, and TV analyst. Born in 1931 in New York City, New York, his father was Malcolm Johnson (died 1976), a journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 1949 for the New York Sun series, “Crime on the Waterfront,” which was the basis for the Academy Award-winning film On the Waterfront, and his mother was a pianist. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in 1952 and his master’s in American history from the University of Wisconsin in 1956. He then served in the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant in artillery during the Korean War. Johnson had begun his newspaper career earlier in Manhattan as a copy boy for the The New York Sun, where his father worked. In 1956 he began reporting for the Wilmington (Delaware) News-Journal, and the following year, Johnson joined the Washington Evening Star where he worked for twelve years, variously as a reporter, copy editor, night city editor and national reporter. He covered conflicts in the Dominican Republic and India, as well as the Vietnam War. Johnson joined The Washington Post in 1969, serving first as a National correspondent, as a special assignment correspondent at home and abroad, then as the paper’s Assistant Managing Editor and finally, as a national affairs columnist. Johnson won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 1966 for his coverage of the civil rights crisis in Selma, Alabama. The award marked the first time in Pulitzer Prize history that a father and son both received awards for reporting. He was the author or editor of sixteen books, five of them best-sellers, including Sleepwalking Through History: America in the Reagan Years (1991) and The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election, co-authored with Washington Post political reporter Dan Balz (2009). His most recent book was Herblock: The Life and Work of the Great Political Cartoonist, co-authored with Harry Katz (2009). Johnson also was a regular commentator on the PBS television shows Washington Week in Review and The News Hour. He held academic appointments at Duke University, Princeton University, University of California at Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania and George Washington University and served as the Knight chair of public affairs journalism at the University of Maryland from 1998 until his death (died 2013): “The successful political leader understands his constituents, wrestles with very difficult, complicated questions, and does the best he or she can. I think that would be true whether you’re in the city council or you’re in the Congress of the United States. The ones that aren’t successful, well, we know them. We see them on television, I write about them, you interview them, we all report on them. But I think they are a minority.”