Today is the Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, and today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest and Martyr (died 1815), and Companions, Martyrs (1648 – 1930) and the Remembrance of Servant of God Augustus Tolton (1897).
Our Gospel reading for the Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time comes from Matthew 11:25-30: At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him. Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Turning to our Saint and our Servant of God, most of the Companion Martyrs to Saint Augustine Zhao Rong honored on this day (eighty-seven) were born in China and were children, parents, catechists or laborers, ranging from nine years of age to seventy-two. This group includes four Chinese diocesan priests. The thirty-three foreign-born martyrs were mostly priests or women religious, especially from the Order of Preachers, the Paris Foreign Mission Society, the Friars Minor, Jesuits, Salesians and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. They were martyred because of their ministry and, in some cases, for their refusal to apostatize. Zhao Rong was a Chinese solider who accompanied Saint Gabriel-Taurin Dufresse, M.E.P. (Missions étrangères de Paris, the Paris Foreign Mission Society), Bishop, from his conviction as a Christian in Chengtu (Chengdu) to his martyrdom in Peking (Beijing) (a distance of some 1,,200 miles) in 1815. Zao Rong was moved by the patience of the Bishop and had then asked to be numbered among the neophytes. Once baptised with the name of Augustine, he was sent to the seminary and then ordained a priest. Arrested, he was tortured and died in 1815. Beatified in groups at various times, these 120 martyrs were canonized in Rome on October 1st, 2000. We also honor Servant of God Augustus Tolton (1897). Born in 1854 in Brush Creek, Ralls County, Missouri, a community about 12 miles from Hannibal, his family were African American slaves owned by Stephen Elliott, and he was baptized with the name of Augustine.. How the members of the Tolton family gained their freedom remains a subject of debate. According to accounts Father Tolton told friends and parishioners, his father escaped first and joined the Union Army. Tolton’s mother then ran away with her children, and with the assistance of sympathetic Union soldiers and police, she crossed the Mississippi River and into the Free State of Illinois. According to descendants of the Elliott family, though, Stephen Elliott freed all his slaves at the outbreak of the American Civil War and allowed them to move North. In any case, Tolton’s father died of dysentery before the war ended. After arriving in Quincy, Illinois, the family began working at the Herris Tobacco Company where they made cigars. Tolton met Father Peter McGirr, an Irish Immigrant priest, from Fintona, County Tyrone, who gave him the opportunity to attend St. Peter’s parochial school during the winter months when the factory was closed. The priest’s decision was controversial in the parish. Although abolitionists were active in the town, many of Father McGirr’s parishioners objected to a black student at their children’s school. McGirr held fast and allowed Tolton to study there. Later Tolton continued studies directly with some priests. He graduated from St. Francis Solanus College (now Quincy University) in Illinois, but despite McGirr’s support, Tolton was rejected by every American seminary to which he applied. Impressed by his personal qualities, McGirr continued to help him and enabled Tolton’s study in Rome, where he attended the Pontifical Urbaniana University, becoming fluent in Italian as well as studying Latin and Greek. Tolton was ordained to the priesthood in Rome in 1886 at age 31 in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, becoming the first Roman Catholic priest in the United States publicly known to be black when he was ordained in 1886. (James Augustine Healy, ordained in 1854, and Patrick Francis Healy, ordained in 1864, were of mixed-race.) Expecting to serve in an African mission, he had been studying its regional cultures and languages. Instead, he was directed to return to the United States to serve the black community in Illinois, and was assigned to the diocese of Alton (now the Diocese of Springfield). Tolton celebrated his first public Mass at St. Boniface church in Quincy. He attempted to organize a parish there, but over the years met with resistance from both white Catholics (many of whom were ethnic German) and Protestant blacks, who did not want him trying to attract people to another denomination. He organized St. Joseph Catholic Church and school in Quincy, but ran into opposition from the new dean of the parish, who wanted him to turn away white worshipers from his services. After reassignment to Chicago, Tolton led a mission society, St. Augustine’s, that met in the basement of St. Mary’s Church. He led the development and administration of the Negro “national parish” of St. Monica’s Catholic Church, built at 36th and Dearborn Streets on the South Side of Chicago. The church sanctuary was built with money from philanthropist Mrs. Anne O’Neill and Saint Katherine Drexel. St. Monica’s Parish grew to have 600 parishioners from a base of 30 prior to the construction of the new church building. Tolton’s success at ministering to black Catholics quickly earned him national attention within the Catholic hierarchy. “Good Father Gus”, as he was called by many, was known for his “eloquent sermons, his beautiful singing voice and his talent for playing the accordion.” Several contemporaneous news articles described his personal qualities and importance. An 1893 article in the Lewiston Daily Sun, written while he worked to establish St. Monica’s for African American Catholics in Chicago, said, “Father Tolton…is a fluent and graceful talker and has a singing voice of exceptional sweetness, which shows to good advantage in the chants of the high mass[sic]. It is no unusual thing for many white people to be seen among his congregation.” The True Witness and Catholic Chronicle in 1894 described him as “indefatigable” in his efforts to establish the new parish. Daniel Rudd, who organized the initial National Black Catholic Conference which was held in 1889, was quoted in the November 8th, 1888 edition of The Irish Canadian as commenting about the Congress by saying, “For a long time the idea prevailed that the negro [sic] was not wanted beyond the altar rail, and for that reason, no doubt, hundreds of young colored men who would otherwise be officiating at the altar rail to-day have entered other walks. Now that this mistaken idea has been dispelled by the advent of one full-blooded negro [sic] priest, the Rev. Augustus Tolton, many more have entered the seminaries in this country and Europe…”. In another indication of the prominence given Father Tolton by parts of the American Catholic hierarchy was his participation, a few months later, on the altar at an international celebration of the centenary of the establishment of the first United States Catholic Diocese in Baltimore. Writing about it in the New York Times edition of November 11th, 1889, the correspondent noted (with apparent astonishment), “As Cardinal Gibbons retired to his dais [on the altar at the Mass], the reporters in the improvised press gallery noticed for the first time, not six feet away from him in the sanctuary among the abbots and other special dignitaries, the black face of Father Tolton of Chicago, the first colored Catholic priest ordained [sic] in America.” Tolton began to be plagued by “spells of illness” in 1893. Because of them, he was forced to take a temporary leave of absence from his duties at St. Monica’s Parish in 1895. At the age of 43, on July 8th, 1897, he collapsed and died the following day at Mercy Hospital as a result of a heat wave in Chicago in 1897. After a funeral which included 100 priests, Tolton was buried in Quincy in the priests’ lot in St. Peter’s Cemetery, which had been his expressed wish. After Tolton’s death, St. Monica’s was made a mission of St. Elizabeth’s Church. In 1924 it was closed as a national parish, as black Catholics chose to attend parish churches in their own neighborhoods. On March 2nd, 2010, Cardinal George of Chicago announced that he was beginning an official investigation into Tolton’s life and virtues with a view to opening the cause for his canonization. This cause for sainthood is also being advanced by the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, where Tolton first served as priest, as well as the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri, where his family was enslaved. On February 24th, 2011, the Roman Catholic Church officially began the formal introduction of the cause for sainthood of Father Augustus Tolton, and on September 29th, 2014, at Saint James Chapel at the Archbishop Quigley Center in Chicago, Illinois, Cardinal George formally closed the investigation into the life and virtues of Father Augustus Tolton. The dossier of research into Tolton’s life went to the Vatican, where the documents collected which support his cause will be analyzed, bound into a book called a “positio,” or official position paper, and evaluated by theologians, and then, supporters hope, passed on to the pope, who can declare Tolton “venerable” if he determines Tolton led a life of heroic virtue. If you know of any miracles that can be attributed to Father Tolton, please contact the Vatican.
Last night I started reading Hemingway Didn’t Say That: The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations by Garson O’Toole via Kindle on my tablet, and I continued reading Kiss My Asterisk: A Feisty Guide to Punctuation and Grammar by Jenny Baranick via Kindle on my tablet. And the Full Moon arrived at 11:09 pm.
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 and said the Third Day of my Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Today was the last day of the current two-week pay period. When we clocked in, Richard was on Four Card Poker, until they closed his table; he then became the Relief Dealer for the Sit-Down Blackjack table, another Blackjack table, and the $5.00 Minimum Bet Blackjack table. I was the dealer on the second Mississippi Stud game, until they closed my game; I then became the Relief Dealer for Mississippi Stud, Three Card Poker, and Let It Ride.
On our way home Richard stopped at Allison’s Barbeque for his lunch. Once we arrived home I made my lunch salads for tomorrow and Tuesday, and ate a lunch salad while reading the Sunday papers. I then came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update; when I finish this Daily Update I will go to bed and do some reading before going to sleep for the duration.
We do not have any Saints to honor, so we will instead note that tomorrow is International Nikolo Tesla Day. And tomorrow would have been my parent’s 63rd wedding anniversary, were they both still among the living (1954). Tomorrow is the first day of the new two-week pay period at the casino. After 3:00 am I will be fasting, and on my breaks I will start reading Sycamore Row by John Grisham via Kindle on my tablet. At 11:00 am I will go to the Clinic to have blood drawn for lab work ahead of my July 17th, 2017 appointment at the Clinic with the Doctor / Nurse Practitioner. And after lunch I will work on my weblog, doing Advance Daily Update Drafts.
Our Parting Quote this Sunday afternoon comes to us from Jessica Anderson, Australian novelist and short story writer. Born as Jessica Queale in 1916 in Gayndah, Queensland, to an English mother and an Irish father, she was brought up in Brisbane. As a child she always wrote poetry and stories and thought about being an architect, but felt that becoming one was not possible in Brisbane for a woman. She left school at age sixteen and attended the Brisbane Technical College Art School for a year, but moved to Sydney when she was eighteen and was drawn into the bohemian life there. She lived most of her life in Sydney, though she also lived in London for two and a half years. Twice divorced, her first husband was the artist Ross McGill. Anderson started writing novels in her early 40s but had written stories and plays and adapted novels for radio prior to that. Most of these earlier works were published under pseudonyms; as her writing got better and she moved away from formula plots, she got more rejection slips. Her first published novel was An Ordinary Lunacy (1963). She came from a politically active family and joined the Australian Labor Party in 1976. In 1978 she received the Miles Franklin Award and the Australian Natives Association Literary Award for Tirra Lirra by the River. In 1980 she received the Miles Franklin Award for The Impersonators (published in the United States as The Only Daughter), and the next year won the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards, Christina Stead Prize for Fiction for the same book. In 1987 Anderson won The Age Book of the Year Award for Stories from the Warm Zone and Sydney Stories (died 2010): ”I was very much, and always have been, preoccupied with people who are strangers in their society.”