Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Cyriacus, Martyr (died c. 303), the Memorial of Saint Dominic, Priest (died 1221), the Optional Memorial of The Fourteen Holy Helpers, and the Optional Memorial of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Religious (died 1909). Today is also the anniversary of my graduation from LSU in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, and it is also International Cat Day. Finally, today is the Birthday of Richard’s friend Steve in Mississippi (1957).
All that is known of Cyriacus (born third century) is that he was martyred and buried at the seventh milestone of the Via Ostiensis in Rome. However, legend maintains that Cyriacus was a Roman nobleman who converted to Christianity as an adult and, renouncing his material wealth, gave it away to the poor. He spent the rest of his life ministering to the slaves who worked in the Baths of Diocletian. Under the reign of Western Roman Emperor Maximian, co-emperor with Diocletian, Cyriacus was tortured and put to death, beheaded in 303 on the Via Salaria, where he was subsequently buried. Saint Cyriacus is credited with exorcising demons from two girls. The first was Artemisia (or Artemia), the daughter of Emperor Diocletian, which resulted in both Artemisia and her mother Saint Serena converting to Christianity. The second was Jobias, the daughter of Shapur II of Persia (reigned 241-272), which led to the conversion of the King’s entire household. Saint Cyriacus is venerated as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and he is the patron saint of the Italian city of Cirié. Saint Dominic, Priest (died 1221) was born in 1170 at Caleruega, Burgos, Old Castile as Dominic de Guzman, of wealthy Spanish nobility. His mother, Blessed Joan of Aza, had difficulty conceiving, and prayed at the shrine of Saint Dominic of Silos who had a tradition of patronage of that problem; while pregnant, his mother had a vision that her unborn child was a dog who would set the world on fire with a torch it carried in its mouth (a dog with a torch in its mouth became a symbol for the Order which he founded, the Dominicans; the Latin pun on their name, Domini canes, means Hounds of God). At Dominic’s baptism, Blessed Joan saw a star shining from his chest. Dominic studied philosophy and theology at the University of Palencia; in 1194, around twenty-five years old, he joined the Canons Regular in the canonry of Osma, following the rule of Saint Augustine. In 1203 or 1204 he first met the heretical Cathars, also sometimes referred to as the Albigensians. He founded the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans) in 1215; membership in the Order includes friars, congregations of active sisters, and lay persons affiliated with the order (formerly known as tertiaries, now Lay or Secular Dominicans. At one point Dominic became discouraged at the progress of his mission; no matter how much he worked, the heresies remained. But he received a vision from Our Lady who showed him a wreath of roses, representing the rosary. She told him to say the rosary daily, teach it to all who would listen, and eventually the true faith would win out. Dominic is often credited with the invention of the rosary; it actually pre-dates him, but he certainly spread devotion to it, and used it to strengthen his own spiritual life. Throughout his life he is said to have zealously practiced rigorous self-denial. He abstained from meat and observed stated fasts and periods of silence. He selected the worst accommodations and the meanest clothes, and never allowed himself the luxury of a bed. When traveling, he beguiled the journey with spiritual instruction and prayers. As soon as he passed the limits of towns and villages, he took off his shoes, and, however sharp the stones or thorns, he trudged on his way barefooted. Rain and other discomforts elicited from his lips nothing but praises to God. Legend says that he received a vision of a beggar who, like Dominic, would do great things for the Faith. Dominic met the beggar the next day. He embraced him and said, “You are my companion and must walk with me. If we hold together, no earthly power can withstand us.” The beggar was Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan order. Saint Dominic is the Patron Saint of astronomers, scientists, and of the Dominican Republic. The Fourteen Holy Helpers are a group of saints venerated together in Roman Catholicism because their intercession is believed to be particularly effective, especially against various diseases. This group of Nothelfer (“helpers in need”) originated in the 14th century at first in the Rhineland, largely as a result of the epidemic (probably of bubonic plague) that became known as the Black Death. They are Agathius (Acacius), May 7th; Barbara, December 4th; Blaise (Blase, Blasius), February 3rd; Catherine of Alexandria , November 25th; Christopher (Christophorus), July 25th; Cyriacus, August 8th; Denis (Dionysius), October 9th; Erasmus (Elmo), June 2nd; Eustace (Eustachius, Eustathius), September 2oth; George (Georgius), April 23rd; Giles (Aegidius), September 1st; Margaret of Antioch, July 20th; Pantaleon (Panteleimon), July 27th; and Vitus (Guy), June 15th. While each saint had a separate feast day, the Fourteen Holy Helpers were in some places celebrated as a group on August 8th, but this celebration never became part of the General Roman Calendar for universal veneration (however, I personally recognize the celebration). Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Religious (died 1909) was born as Mary Helen MacKillop in 1842 in what is now the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, Victoria (at the time part of an area called Newtown in the then British colony of New South Wales) to parents who had emigrated from Scotland; her father had studied to become a Catholic priest, but left the seminary at the age of twenty-nine just before being ordained. The eldest of eight children, MacKillop was educated at private schools and by her father, and started work at the age of fourteen as a clerk in a stationery store in Melbourne. While working as a governess at her uncle’s estate in Penola, South Australia, she met Father Julian Tenison Woods, who had been the parish priest in the south east since his ordination to the priesthood in 1857. In 1866 Father Woods invited MacKillop and her sisters to come to Penola and to open a Catholic school. Woods was appointed director of education and became the founder, along with MacKillop, of a school they began in a stable; after renovations by their brother, the MacKillops started teaching more than fifty children. At this time MacKillop made a declaration of her dedication to God and began wearing black. On November 23rd, 1866, the feast day of the Presentation of Mary, several other women joined MacKillop and her sisters. MacKillop adopted the religious name of Sister Mary of the Cross and she and her sister began wearing simple religious habits. The small group began to call themselves the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart and moved to a new house in Grote Street, Adelaide. There they founded a new school at the request of Bishop Laurence Bonaventure Sheil, OFM. Dedicated to the education of the children of the poor, it was the first religious institute to be founded by an Australian. The “Rule of Life” developed by Woods and MacKillop for the community emphasised poverty, a dependence on divine providence, no ownership of personal belongings, faith that God would provide and willingness to go where needed. The “Rule of Life” was approved by Bishop Sheil. By the end of 1867 ten other women had joined the Josephites, who adopted a plain brown religious habit. Due to the colour of their attire and their name, the Josephite sisters became colloquially known as the “Brown Joeys”. In an attempt to provide education to all the poor, particularly in rural areas, a school was opened in Yankalilla, South Australia, in October 1867. By the end of 1869, more than seventy members of the Sisters of St Joseph were educating children at 21 schools in Adelaide and the country. In December 1869, MacKillop and several other sisters travelled to Brisbane to establish the order in Queensland. They were based at Kangaroo Point and took the ferry or rowed across the Brisbane River to attend Mass at St Stephen’s Cathedral. Two years later, she was in Port Augusta, South Australia for the same purpose. The Josephite congregation expanded rapidly and, by 1871, one hundred and thirty sisters were working in more than 40 schools and charitable institutions across South Australia and Queensland. Bishop Sheil spent less than two years of his episcopate in Adelaide and his absences and poor health left the diocese effectively without clear leadership for much of his tenure. This resulted in bitter factionalism within the clergy and disunity among the lay community. In early 1870 MacKillop and her sister Josephites heard of allegations that a parish priest in Kapunda, to Adelaide’s north, had been sexually abusing children. The Josephites, without referring to MacKillop first, informed Father Woods, who in turn informed the vicar general Father John Smyth, who ultimately sent the priest back to Ireland, allegedly for alcohol abuse. The priest’s former Kapunda colleague, Father Charles Horan OFM, was angered by the removal and there is evidence to suggest he sought revenge against Woods by attacking the Josephites. Horan became acting vicar general after the death of Smyth in June 1870 and from this position sought to influence Bishop Sheil. Horan met with Sheil on September 21st, 1871 and convinced him that the Josephites’ constitution should be changed; the following day, when MacKillop apparently did not accede to the request, Sheil excommunicated her, citing insubordination as the reason. Though the Josephites were not disbanded, most of their schools were closed in the wake of this action. Forbidden to have contact with anyone in the church, MacKillop lived with a Jewish family and was also sheltered by Jesuit priests. Some of the sisters chose to remain under diocesan control, becoming popularly known as “Black Joeys”. On his deathbed Sheil instructed Horan to lift the excommunication on MacKillop, which was done in 1872. An episcopal commission later completely exonerated her. (It should be noted that she had been excommunicated for insubordination to her bishop, not for reporting incidents of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.) After the acquisition of the Mother House in Kensington in 1872, MacKillop made preparations to leave for Rome to have the “Rule of Life” of the Sisters of St Joseph officially approved. When Mackillop returned to Australia in January 1875, after an absence of nearly two years, she brought approval from Rome for her sisters and the work they did, materials for her school, books for the convent library, several priests and most of all, 15 new Josephites from Ireland. Regardless of her success, she still had to contend with the opposition of priests and several bishops. She was unanimously elected as superior general in March 1875. After the appointment of Roger Vaughan as Archbishop of Sydney in 1877, life became a little easier for MacKillop and her sisters. The Josephites expanded their operations into New South Wales and New Zealand, and MacKillop relocated to Sydney in 1883; the same year she was removed as Superior General by the new bishop, and the order was successfully established at Temuka in New Zealand, where MacKillop stayed for over a year. Pope Leo XIII gave official approval to the Josephites as a congregation in 1885, with its headquarters in Sydney. He gave the final approval to the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart in 1888. In 1889 the order was established in the Australian state of Victoria. By 1896 MacKillop was back in South Australia, visiting fellow sisters in Port Augusta, Burra, Pekina, Kapunda, Jamestown and Gladstone. That same year, she travelled again to New Zealand, spending several months in Port Chalmers and Arrowtown in Otago. In 1897 Bishop Maher of Port Augusta arranged for the Sisters of St Joseph to take charge of the St Anacletus Catholic Day School at Petersburg (now Peterborough), and MacKillop founded a convent and base for the Sisters of St Joseph in Petersburg. MacKillop was once more elected unopposed as superior general in 1899, a position she held until her own death. During the later years of her life she had many problems with her health which continued to deteriorate. She suffered from rheumatism and after a stroke in Auckland, New Zealand in 1902, became paralysed on her right side. For seven years, she had to rely on a wheelchair to move around, but her speech and mind were as good as ever and her letter writing had continued unabated after she learned to write with her left hand. Even after suffering the stroke, the Josephite nuns had enough confidence in her to re-elect her in 1905. After her death in 1909 so many people would take earth from around her grave that her remains were transferred to a vault. In 1925 the Mother Superior of the Sisters of St Joseph, Mother Laurence, began the process to have MacKillop declared a saint; after several years of delays the initial phase of investigations was completed in 1973. After further investigations, MacKillop’s “heroic virtue” was declared in 1992. She was beatified in 1995 by Pope John Paul II, and was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, She is the first and (thus far) only Australian to be recognised by the Catholic Church as a saint, and she is the Patron Saint of the fraternal order of Knights of the Southern Cross and of the city of Brisbane, Australia. Turning to the Old War Skule, I entered LSU in the fall of 1976 with the intention of getting a degree in accounting, and emerged four years and one semester later with said degree. During that time I lived on campus in Graham Hall (formerly a men’s dorm, now gone) and in Acadian during the summer semesters, and during my last year I lived in a rathole of an apartment on West Roosevelt Street across from the Gay Married Student Housing (named after Edward F. Gay, of course). I was also employed part time starting in 1977; on the LSU campus I worked in Pentagon Cafeteria and at Acadian Cafeteria, and after I got my apartment I worked at the Ourso Department Store on Plank Road. Besides receiving an education, I also met the person who was the roommate of the cousin of my best friend and of Liz Ellen’s friend (who were sisters) in 1977. Seven years later, I was married to the brother of said roommate, who was at LSU from 1975 to 1979, but whom I had never met while at LSU. Today is also International Cat Day. The celebration was created in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Many animal shelters worldwide on this date encourage people to adopt cats while other shelters hold courses on feline care and health. Today is also the birthday of Richard’s friend Stephen in Mississippi (1957).
I woke up half an hour early, posted to Facebook that today was the date of my graduation from LSU in 1980, and posted to Facebook that today was International Cat Day. 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 Assumption Novena. (It is an odd fact, due to a number of the older Louisiana parishes (aka counties) being remnants of Church parishes, that many civil parishes have overtly Catholic names: Ascension Parish, Assumption Parish, and nine parishes named after saints, including Saint Landry, the parish in which I reside.) Once we got to the casino we signed the Early Out list. Once we clocked in, Richard was on Pai Gow, and I was on Three Card Blackjack. I got out at 5:00 am, addressed birthday cards to our friend Steve in Baton Rouge and to my friend CJ in Nevada, and I started reading The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout. Richard got out at 5:45 am; we headed home, and both of us went back to bed before 7:00 am.
I woke up at 11:15 am, and read the morning paper while eating my lunch salad. I then watched MST3K Episode 202 The Sidehackers
(Five the Hard Way), featuring Sidehacking (racing motorcycle with a sidecar on a dirt track), and a plot that had just about everyone dead at the end. (Richard called the ending nihilistic, and I referred him to Wikipedia, which had said the same thing.)I saw this episode via NetFlix, but then could not get to more than one season’s worth of shows, so I went back to YouTube to watch MST3K Episode 401 Space Travelers (Marooned), about three NASA astronauts stuck in space on their way back from a space station (the film won an Academy Award for Visual Effects for Robbie Robertson, making it the only Academy Award film savaged by Joel and the bots, and gave Astronaut Jim Lovell’s wife nightmares.) I then did a couple of Advance Daily Update Drafts for this weblog on the computer, and put my New Orleans Saints flag on the flagpole. At 4:30 pm we watched Jeopardy!, and I saw MST3K Episode 402 The Giant Gila Monster, with a responsible teen-age mechanic with access to nitroglycerine, a crippled little girl in leg braces, a model train (the stand-in for the real train supposedly derailed), and a Mexican beaded lizard instead of a Gila monster. Richard and I then went to eat dinner at D.C.’s Sports Bar and Steakhouse, and on our way home Richard got ice cream. Back home I watched MST3K Episode 3 City Limits, a post-apocalyptic movie about rival motorcycle gangs in “the City” and an evil corporation. This movie actually had some star (and not-so-star) power, with James Earl Jones, Kim Cattrall, Rae Dawn Chong, John Stockwell, and Robbie Benson. I then came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update, and when I finish I will go to bed.
Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr (died 1942). The Perseid Meteor Shower begins tomorrow and lasts through Sunday. Tomorrow is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. I will be doing my laundry and the Weekly Computer Maintenance, and Richard will be going to Baton Rouge to see Butch (who reported that he, Butch, fell out of bed Monday night, and slept on the floor in consequence).
Our Parting Quote on this Tuesday evening comes to us from Menahem Golan, Israeli movie director and producer. Born as Menahem Globus in 1929 in Tiberias (then in Mandate Palestine), his parents were Jewish immigrants from Russian Poland. He spent his early years in Tiberias, then studied directing at the Old Vic School and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and studied film making at New York University. During the Israeli War of Independence he served as a pilot in the Israeli Air Force and changed his last name to Golan for patriotic reasons. He began his career as an apprentice at Habima Theater in Tel Aviv. After completing his studies in theater direction, he staged plays in Israel. He gained experience as a filmmaker by working as an assistant to Roger Corman. Golan is probably best known as a director for his film Mivtsa Yonatan (Operation Thunderbolt, 1977), about the Israeli raid on Entebbe airport in Uganda. He also produced Eskimo Limon (Lemon Popsicle, 1978), a film that spawned many sequels and an American remake called The Last American Virgin in 1982. In 1979 he and his cousin Yoram Globus purchased Cannon Films for $500,000. The two cousins forged a business model of buying barrel-bottom scripts and putting them into production. In 1979 Golan did an adaptation of an Isaac Bashevis Singer novel entitled The Magician of Lublin. He was responsible for the musical The Apple (1980), an unusual moral fable with a rock-disco soundtrack that appeared on a number of lists of all-time-worst movies, but has since become a cult film. Golan’s production company, The Cannon Group, produced a long line of films during the 1980s and early 1990s, including Delta Force, Runaway Train, and some of the Death Wish sequels. In 1986 Cannon was taken over by Pathe Communications. Golan produced several comic book-style movies in the last half of the 1980s, most notably Masters of the Universe, based on the toys of that name and inspired by the comics of Jack Kirby. Using the pen name of Joseph Goldman, Golan also wrote and “polished” film scripts. In 1987 Cannon gained infamy after their U.K.-based production of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace failed in theaters and provoked a negative backlash from fans. Golan resigned from Cannon in 1989, and by 1993 the company had folded. After Cannon’s collapse, Golan became head of 21st Century Film Corporation and produced several medium-budget films. Golan had hoped to film Spider-Man in 1986 at Cannon studios in United Kingdom, and to shoot the exteriors in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Dolph Lundgren was envisioned as the Green Goblin and Spider-Man creator Stan Lee was approached to make a cameo as J. Jonah Jameson. Golan struggled for years to produce the Marvel Comics character, but he finally failed when 21st Century Film Corporation went bankrupt and closed in 1996 (along with Carolco Pictures, another company that had agreed to help finance the film). Sony Pictures eventually purchased the Spider-Man rights and produced the first film in 2002. That same year Golan released his adaptation of Crime and Punishment. Golan produced about two hundred films, directed forty-four films, won eight Violin David Awards, and also won The Israel Prize in Cinema in 1999. His last film was Marriage Agreement, which he directed in 2008 (died 2014): “If you make an American film with a beginning, a middle and an end, with a budget of less than five million dollars, you must be an idiot to lose money.”