Today is the First Saturday of the month, dedicated to devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is also the Optional Memorial of Saint Junípero Serra, Priest (died 1784). Today is also Canada Day. And today is the birthday of my daughter’s friend Kim (1986).
The First Saturday of each month is dedicated to devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Turning to today’s Saint, he was born in 1713 at Petra, Spanish Majorca as Miquel Josep Serra i Ferrer, entered the Franciscan University at Palma, Spain at age fifteen, and joined the Order at age seventeen, taking the name Junipero after the simple friend of Saint Francis. Ordained in 1737, he taught philosophy and theology at the Lullian University in Palma de Mallorca, where he also occupied the Duns Scotus chair of philosophy until he joined the missionary College of San Fernando de Mexico. In 1749, at the age of thirty-seven, Father Serra was sent to the missionary territories of the west of North America. A mosquito bite he received early in his trip to the New World left one leg swollen; this and his asthma made walking a painful process for the rest of his life. In 1768 he took over missions in the Mexican provinces of Lower and Upper California, missions the Jesuits were forced to abandon by order of King Charles III. A tireless worker, Serra was largely responsible for the foundation and spread of the Church on the West Coast of the United States. He founded twenty-one missions, converted thousands of Native Americans, and trained many of them in European methods of agriculture, cattle husbandry, and crafts. He was a dedicated religious and missionary, penitent and austere in all areas of his life. During the final three years of his life he once more visited the missions from San Diego to San Francisco, traveling more than 600 miles in the process, in order to confirm all who had been baptized in the previous years. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988, and was canonized by Pope Francis in Washington, D.C. on September 23rd, 2015 amid concerns about Father Serra’s role in the treatment of the Native Americans by the Spanish. He is the Patron Saint of Vocations and of the State of California. Canada Day (French: Fête du Canada) is the national day of Canada, a federal statutory holiday celebrating the anniversary of the July 1st, 1867, enactment of the Constitution Act, 1867 (then called the British North America Act, 1867), which united three colonies into a single country called Canada within the British Empire. Originally called Dominion Day (French: Le Jour de la Confédération), the holiday was renamed in 1982, the year the Canada Act was passed. Canada Day observances take place throughout Canada as well as among Canadians internationally, with the 2017 celebration of 150 years since the establishment of Canada. Today is also the birthday of my daughter’s friend Kim (1986).
Last night I continued reading Beethoven’s Skull: Dark, Strange, and Fascinating Tales from the World of Classical Music and Beyond by Tim Rayborn via Kindle on my tablet.
When I woke up to get ready for work today I put in a new set of contact lenses, posted to Facebook that today was Canada Day, flipped to the next month in my wall calendars, put the spare Galaxy Note 4 battery into my phone, and did my Book Devotional Reading. I then changed the date on my watches (something I do after every 28-, 29-, or 30-day month). On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading, cleared my phone list and voice mail list, cleared the Browsing Data on Chrome, Facebook, Wikipedia, and Play Store, deleted my Google Search History, and did screenshots of my Galaxy Note 4 home screens. Today was the first day of the Heavy Business Volume Days for the Fourth of July. After the Pre-Shift Meeting, Richard was on the second Mississippi Stud table, then was moved to Mini Baccarat. I started out on Three Card Blackjack, where I stayed for about four hours until the table went dead and they closed it down, then I went to the second Mississippi Stud table; I then traded with the dealer on Three Card Poker, and was on Three Card Poker for the rest of the day. At 9:00 am the table was changed to a $5.00 table. Just at about 10:45 am, the Pit Boss for Days was at my table saying something about raising the limit on the table later, since today was a Holiday Period; I was dealing to my players, and was not paying close attention to her. Just before 11:00 am, when the Day dealers were coming onto the floor, I noticed that the Limit sign on my table now said $10.00. I asked the Days floor supervisor, “Are my players grandfathered at $5.00, or what?”; she did not know, and said she would check. I was tapped off of my table by the Days dealer, and then the Pit Boss roundly chastised me. “You were standing right there when I said we would be raising the limit to $10.00 at 12:00 pm, we always raise it to $10.00 at noon on a holiday Saturday, you didn’t need to rile up your guests over if they could play at $5.00 or not!” I apologized to her and said I was wrong, but I thought then, and still think, “If you are raising the limit to $10.00 at noon, why was the sign telling the players what the limit is changed to $10.00 at 11:00 am??” And people wonder why I do not miss dealing on the Day Shift….
On our way home I continued reading A Time to Kill by John Grisham via Overdrive on my tablet, and got an Email that Sycamore Row by John Grisham would be waiting at the Carencro branch of the Lafayette Public Library until Thursday. Once home from work I set up my medications for next week (I have no prescriptions to renew) and then read the morning paper while Richard paid the bills. I then headed to the Adoration Chapel, where I did my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration, and Richard headed to Wal-Mart. During my Hour I read the June 26th, 2017 issue of my Jesuit America magazine. When I got home I plugged the bills Richard had paid into my Checkbook Pro app, then started doing today’s Daily Update. Richard returned home at about 2:45 pm. And when I finish this Daily Update I will remove the polish from my toenails, do some reading, then go to bed for the duration.
Tomorrow is the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. We have no Saints to honor tomorrow; we will instead note that tomorrow is the half-way point of this calendar year (at 1:00 pm local time here in SouthWestCentral Louisiana). Tomorrow is another Heavy Business Volume Day for the Fourth of July, and on my breaks at work I will continue reading A Time to Kill by John Grisham via Overdrive on my tablet. Once home from work I will make my salads for Monday and Tuesday and put fresh polish on my toenails. The Half-Way Point of the year will be at 1:00 pm local time.
Our Parting Quote this First Saturday afternoon comes to us from Nicholas Winton, British stockbroker. Born in 1909 in Hampstead, London, his father was a bank manager, and his parents were German Jews who had moved to London in 1907. They changed their last name from Wertheim to Winston, and converted to Christianity. In 1923 Winton entered the Stowe School in Stowe, Buckinghamshire, which had just opened. He left without qualifications, attending night school while volunteering at the Midland Bank. He then went to Hamburg, where he worked at Behrens Bank, followed by employment at the Wasserman Bank in Berlin. In 1931 he moved to France and worked for the Banque Nationale de Crédit in Paris. He also earned a banking qualification in France. Returning to London, he became a broker at the London Stock Exchange. Though a stockbroker, Winton was also an ardent socialist, and through his socialist friend Martin Blake became part of a left wing circle opposed to appeasement and concerned about the dangers posed by the Nazis. At school he had become an outstanding fencer and he was selected for the British team in 1938. Shortly before Christmas 1938, Winton was planning to travel to Switzerland for a skiing holiday. He decided instead to visit Prague and help Blake, who was in Prague as an associate of the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia, then in the process of being occupied by Germany, and had called Winton to ask him to assist in Jewish welfare work. Winton single-handedly established an organization to aid children from Jewish families at risk from the Nazis. He set up his office at a dining room table in his hotel in Wenceslas Square. In November 1938, following Kristallnacht in Nazi-ruled Germany, the House of Commons approved a measure to allow the entry into Britain of refugees younger than 17, provided they had a place to stay and a warranty of £50 was deposited for their eventual return to their own country. An important obstacle was getting official permission to cross into the Netherlands, as the children were to embark on the ferry at Hoek van Holland. After Kristallnacht in November 1938, the Dutch government officially closed its borders to any Jewish refugees. The border guards, marechaussees, searched for them and returned any found to Germany, despite the horrors of Kristallnacht being well known. Winton succeeded, thanks to the guarantees he had obtained from Britain. After the first train the process of crossing the Netherlands went smoothly. Winton ultimately found homes in Britain for 669 children, many of whose parents later perished in the Auschwitz concentration camp. His mother worked with him to place the children in homes and later hostels. Throughout the summer of 1939, he placed photographs of the children in Picture Post seeking families to accept them. He also wrote to politicians in the United States such as President Roosevelt, asking them for haven for more children. Winter later said that two thousand more might have been saved if the United States had helped, but only Sweden took any besides those sent to Britain. The last group of 250 children, scheduled to leave Prague on September 1st, 1939, were unable to depart, as with Hitler’s invasion of Poland on the same day, the Second World War had begun. Of the children due to leave on that train, only two survived the war. Winton acknowledged the vital roles of Doreen Warriner, Trevor Chadwick, Nicholas Stopford, Beatrice Wellington, Josephine Pike, and Bill Barazetti in Prague who also worked to evacuate children from Europe. Winton himself was in Prague for only about three weeks before the Nazis occupied the country, and never set foot in Prague Station. After the outbreak of the Second World War, Winton applied successfully for registration as a conscientious objector and later served with the Red Cross. He had hoped to go to the 1940 Olympics to compete in fencing, but the games that year were canceled due to the war. In 1940 he rescinded his conscientious objection status and joined the Royal Air Force, Administrative and Special Duties Branch. He was an aircraftman, rising to sergeant by the time he was commissioned on June 22nd, 1944 as an acting pilot officer on probation. On August 17th 1944, he was promoted to pilot officer on probation. He was promoted to the rank of war substantive flying officer on February 17th, 1945. After the war, Winton worked for the International Refugee Organisation and then the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Paris, where he met Grete Gjelstrup, a Danish secretary and accountant’s daughter. They married in her hometown of Vejle in 1948 and settled in Maidenhead, England, where they brought up their three children and he stood, unsuccessfully, for the town council in 1954. He relinquished his commission on May 19th, 1954, retaining the honorary rank of flight lieutenant. Winton found work in the finance departments of various companies. It is often wrongly reported that Winton suppressed his humanitarian exploits for many years; he mentioned them in his election material while unsuccessfully standing for election to the Maidenhead town council in 1954. In the 1983 Queen’s Birthday Honours, Winton was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his work in establishing the Abbeyfield homes for the elderly in Britain. In 1988 his wife found a detailed scrapbook in their attic, containing lists of the children, including their parents’ names and the names and addresses of the families that took them in. She gave the scrapbook to Elisabeth Maxwell, a Holocaust researcher and wife of media magnate Robert Maxwell. Letters were sent to each of these known addresses and 80 of “Winton’s children” were found in Britain. The wider world found out about his work in February 1988 during an episode of the BBC television programme That’s Life! when he was invited as a member of the audience. At one point, Winton’s scrapbook was shown and his achievements were explained. The host of the programme, Esther Rantzen, asked whether anybody in the audience owed their lives to Winton, and if so, to stand, and more than two dozen people surrounding Winton rose and applauded. His Jewish ancestry disqualified him from being declared a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in Israel. Winton was awarded the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Fourth Class, by the Czech President Václav Havel in 1998, and the minor planet 19384 Winton was named in his honour by Czech astronomers Jana Tichá and Miloš Tichý. Winton’s work was the subject of the drama All My Loved Ones (1999), by Slovak filmmaker Matej Mináč, in which Winton was played by Rupert Graves. Winton was featured in the 2000 Warner Brothers documentary written and directed by Mark Jonathan Harris and produced by Deborah Oppenheimer, Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport, which received the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and the film’s accompanying book of the same name. Mináč made the documentary The Power of Good: Nicholas Winton (Síla lidskosti—Nicholas Winton) in 2002, which won an Emmy Award. In the 2003 New Year Honours Winton was knighted in recognition of his work on the Czech Kindertransport, and received the Pride of Britain Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2008 he was honoured by the Czech government in several ways. An elementary school in Kunžak was named after him, and he was awarded the Cross of Merit of the Minister of Defence, Grade I. The Czech government nominated him for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize, and he met the Queen again during her state visit to Bratislava, Slovakia. To celebrate his 100th birthday in 2009, Winton flew over the White Waltham Airfield in a microlight piloted by Judy Leden, the daughter of one of the boys he had saved. His birthday was also marked by the publication of a profile in The Jewish Chronicle. In 2010 Winton was named a British Hero of the Holocaust by the British Government. A play about Winton, Numbers from Prague, was performed in Cambridge in January 2011, and Mináč made the documentary drama Nicky’s Family (Nickyho rodina) the same year. Winton received the Wallenberg Medal on June 27th, 2013 in London.The following year, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation established a literary competition named after Winton; the contest is for essays by high school students about Winton’s legacy. He was awarded the Freedom of the City of London on February 23rd. 2015. A special report from the BBC News on several of the children whom Winton rescued during the war was published on the day of his death (died 2015): “I wasn’t heroic because I was never in danger.”