Daily Update: Friday, May 26th, 2017

Philip Neri

Today is the Memorial of  Saint Philip Neri, Priest (died 1595).

Today’s Saint was born in 1515 at Florence, Italy; though he was related to Italian nobility, Saint Philip Neri came from a poor family. Known as a pious youth, he was taught humanities by the Dominicans. He moved to San Germano in 1533 to help some of his extended family with their business, and while there would escape to a local Dominican chapel in the mountains. Having received a vision that he had an apostolate in Rome, Philip cut himself off from his family and went there. He was befriended by Galeotto Caccia who took Philip in and paid him to tutor his two sons. He wrote poetry in Latin and Italian, and studied philosophy and theology; when he tired of learning, he sold all his books and gave the money to the poor. He began to visit and care for the sick, and for impoverished pilgrims, and founded a society of like-minded folk to do the same. A friend of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, he lived in the city as a hermit, although at this time he was still a layman. During Easter season of 1544, while praying in the catacomb of San Sebastiano, he received a vision of a globe of fire that entered his chest, and he experienced an ecstasy that physically enlarged his heart. With Persiano Rose, he founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity, and began to preach, with many converts. He possessed a playful humour, combined with a shrewd wit. Known as the Saint of Joy, he considered a cheerful temper to be more Christian than a melancholy one, and carried this spirit into his whole life. In 1550 he considered retiring to the life of a solitary hermit, but received further visions that told him his mission was in Rome. Later he considered missionary work in India, but further visions convinced him to stay in Rome. Finally becoming a priest in 1551, he heard confessions by the hour, could tell penitents their sins before they confessed, and had the gift of conferring visions. An enemy of solemnity and conventionality, when some of his more pompous penitents made their confession to him he imposed salutary and deflating penances on them, such as walking through the streets of Rome carrying his cat (he was very fond of cats). When a novice showed signs of excessive seriousness, Philip stood on his head in front of him to make him laugh. In every case there was an excellent point to his pranks: to combat pride, or melancholy, or hero-worship. Pope Gregory XIV tried to make him a cardinal, but Philip declined. His popularity was such that he was accused of forming his own sect, but was cleared of this baseless charge. In 1575 he founded the Congregation of the Oratory (Oratorians, a group of priests dedicated to preaching and teaching), but which suffered from accusations of heresy because of the involvement of laymen as preachers. In later years he was beset by several illnesses, each of which was in turn cured through prayer. He is the Patron Saint of joy and laughter, of the City of Rome, and of the United States Special Forces.

Last night I continued reading The Mummy: A History of the Extraordinary Practices of Ancient Egypt by E. A. Wallis Budge. And at the SEC College Baseball Tournament in Hoover, Alabama, our #6 LSU Tigers beat the #9 Kentucky Wildcats by the score of 10 to 0.

When I woke up to get ready for work today I did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading, said the Eighth Day of my Ascension Novena, and said the First Day of my Pentecost Novena. When we clocked in at work, Richard was the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat and Pai Gow; I was on Mini Baccarat, where I had one guest for about five hands or so at 9:00 am; then three of my regular players showed up at about 10:00 am.

When we clocked out at 11:00 am, on our way home I continued reading A World Without Smells by Lars Lundqvist via Kindle on my tablet; I am very much enjoying the book – it’s the first time I’ve ever read a book that I have been thinking, “I could have written this!” Once we got home from work I read the morning paper while eating my lunch salad, and Richard prepared some stuff to sent out regarding Butch and went down to the hardware store to mail it off (they have UPS in the back). He then mowed the grass. Meanwhile, I watched MST3K Episode 205 Rocket Attack U.S.A. (a 1958 propaganda espionage/science fiction film produced, directed and edited by Barry Mahon who intended to exploit the launching of Sputnik), with the short The Phantom Creeps, Chapter 2: “Death Stalks the Highway”. Richard took a nap, and I watched MST3K Episode 206 Ring of Terror (medical students dissecting bodies and pledging a fraternity; Joel and the bots had great fun savaging this film, as most of the actors were in their early 30’s but playing college students, with the lead actor being 42) with the short (after the film) The Phantom Creeps, Part 3: “Crashing Timbers”. Richard woke up, and we watched Jeopardy!; while we were watching, Michelle came by to collect her accumulated Amazon packages. We then went over to Rocky’s, where Richard had the fried seafood buffet and I had three pounds of late season crawfish for dinner while we watched our #19 LSU Lady Tigers vs # the 4 Florida State Lady Seminoles at the NCAA College Softball Super Regional in Tallahassee, Florida via my Watch ESPN app on my phone. We stopped at Dollar General for ice cream, and watched the end of the game on TV (alas, our Lady Tigers lost the game, 1 t0 5). I will now finish this Daily Update and get ready to go to bed.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (died 605). And tomorrow is the first day of the two-day Louisiana Sales Tax Holiday for Hurricane Preparedness. At the casino tomorrow will be the first day of the three-day Heavy Business Volume Days for Memorial Day. In the afternoon I will be doing my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration at the Adoration Chapel. At the SEC College Baseball Tournament in Hoover, Alabama, our #6 LSU Tigers (41-17, 21-9) will play either the #9 Kentucky Wildcats (39-19, 19-11) or the South Carolina Gamecocks (34-24, 13-17). And our #19 LSU Lady Tigers (41-17) will play a second game with the #4 Florida State Lady Seminoles (51-6) at the NCAA College Softball Super Regional in Tallahassee, Florida, which our LSU Lady Tigers need to win to advance in the Tournament.

Our Parting Quote on this Friday afternoon comes to us from Robert P. Kraft, American astronomer. Born in 1927 in Seattle, he earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in mathematics from the University of Washington and a Ph.D. in astronomy from UC Berkeley. He held faculty positions at Indiana University and the University of Chicago in the 1950s, then rose to prominence in the 1960s as an astronomer at the Mt. Wilson and Palomar Observatories in Pasadena. Between 1962 and 1965 Kraft published a remarkable series of now classic papers, convincingly demonstrating that both the bright classical novae, known from antiquity, and the much fainter dwarf novae, whose studies essentially began in the 19th century, all had one thing in common–they were binary star systems in which one star (usually a white dwarf) siphons off hydrogen and helium from its companion, leading to an explosion. Kraft also established an important rung on the ladder of celestial distances by assessing the contribution of interstellar dust to the dimming of Cepheid variables in the disk of our galaxy. His work on stellar rotation showed that stars like the sun spin slower and slower as they age because winds of charged particles carry away their angular momentum. He later turned his attention to the chemical composition of stars in the Milky Way. He joined the astronomy faculty at UC Santa Cruz and Lick Observatory in 1967. Kraft was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1971 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1973. After two appointments as acting director, he was named director of Lick Observatory in 1981 and became director of the newly created UC Observatories in 1988. In that position, he oversaw both Lick Observatory and UC’s role in building the state-of-the-art W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. Kraft played a key role in bringing about the Keck Observatory, committing the resources of Lick and UC to the construction and instrumentation of the world’s first 10-meter telescope, now known as Keck I. Keck I and its twin, Keck II, are among the largest optical and infrared telescopes ever built. UC Observatories, which he directed until 1991, now operates Lick Observatory, manages the Keck Observatory in cooperation with Caltech and NASA, and oversees UC’s participation in the Thirty Meter Telescope project. Kraft also served as president of the American Astronomical Society from 1974 to 1976 and president of the International Astronomical Union from 1997 to 2000.  In 1995 the American Astronomical Society named Kraft the Henry Norris Russell Lecturer in recognition of lifetime achievement in astronomy. He received the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s highest honor, the Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal, in 2005 (died 2016): “Self-study, in a sense of learning by yourself without anybody teaching you anything, has an enormous value.”

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