Today is the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time and the Optional Memorial of Saint Pontian, Pope and Martyr (died 235) and the Optional Memorial of his onetime opponent, Saint Hippolytus, Priest and Martyr (died 235 or 236). The Perseid Meteor Shower ends, and today is International Left Handers Day.
Our Gospel reading for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time comes from Matthew 14:22-33: “After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”” Turning to our Saints, Saint Pontian was born in Rome, the son of one Calpurnius; he was elected Pope in 230, ending a schism that had begun in 217 (of which we will hear more anon) and reconciling the schismatics with the Church. In 235 he was exiled by Emperor Maximinus Thrax to Sardinia and sentenced to work in the mines; he abdicated the Papacy on September 28th, 235 so that a new Pope could be elected to lead the Church. According to the Liber Pontificalis he died due to the inhuman treatment he received in the Sardinian mines. According to tradition he died on the island of Tavolara; his remains were brought back to Rome by Pope Saint Fabian (died 250) and buried in the catacomb of Callistus. Turning to our second Saint, as a presbyter of the church at Rome under Pope Zephyrinus (died 217) Saint Hippolytus was distinguished for his learning and eloquence. It was at this time that Origen of Alexandria, then a young man, heard him preach. He accused Pope Zephyrinus (died 217) of modalism, the heresy which held that the names Father and Son are simply different names for the same subject, and accused his successor, Pope Callixtus I (died 222), of favoring the Christological heresies of the Monarchians, and, further, of subverting the discipline of the Church by his lax action in receiving back into the Church those guilty of gross offenses. At this time Hippolytus seems to have allowed himself to be elected as a rival Bishop of Rome, and continued to attack Pope Urban I (died 230) and Pope Saint Pontian (died 235). Under the persecution by Emperor Maximinus Thrax, Hippolytus was exiled with Pope Pontian in 235 to Sardinia, and it is very probable that before his death there he was reconciled to the other party at Rome, for under Pope Fabian (died 250) his body and that of Pontian were brought to Rome. Hippolytus’s voluminous writings, including the Contra Haeresim Noeti (Refutation of all Heresies), embraced the spheres of exegesis, homiletics, apologetics and polemic, chronography, and ecclesiastical law. The facts of his life as well as his writing were soon forgotten in the West, perhaps by reason of his schismatic activities and because he wrote in Greek. In later ages he became confused with a possibly mythical Bishop Hippolytus of Portus, with a mythical soldier converted by Saint Lawrence, and also with the Greek mythological figure Hippolytus, and he was represented as having been martyred by being dragged by horses (which is how the mythical Hippolytus met his end). He is the Patron Saint of horses and of prison workers and guards, and of the city of Bibbiena, Italy. Also, the Perseid Meteor Shower ends today. Today is International Left Handers Day. It was first observed on August 13th, 1976. As the name suggests, it is meant to promote awareness of the inconveniences faced by left-handers in a predominantly right-handed world. It celebrates their uniqueness and differences, who are from seven to ten percent of the world’s population. Thousands of left-handed people in today’s society have to adapt to use right handed tools and objects. (I once saw a coffee cup that said, “Hire the Left-Handed, It’s Fun to Watch Them Write”.) There is also a more serious side to the day, which spreads awareness about the special needs of left-handed kids. Also, left-handed people may be more likely to develop schizophrenia because of their enhanced creativity and imagination. So Happy Left Handers Day, especially to my daughter Michelle!
Upon waking up to get ready for work I posted to Facebook that today was the last day of the Perseid Meteor Shower (we did not see one meteor, as it was always overcast when it was not brightly moonlit) and I posted to Facebook that today was International Left Handers Day. I did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Eighth Day of my Assumption Novena. Once in the ADR break room, I reconciled our bank statement to our checkbook and my Checkbook Pro app. When we clocked in, Richard was on the Sit-Down Blackjack table. I started out on Three Card Blackjack, but was soon moved to Macau Mini Baccarat; when our last Macau player left, it turned into a regular Mini Baccarat table. On my breaks I continued re-reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, and I continued reading on our way home.
Once home from work I made my lunch salads for Monday and Tuesday, then I ate a salad while reading the Sunday papers. I then watched MST3K Episode 410 Hercules Against the Moon Men (Maciste e la regina di Samar) (the film’s hero was actually Maciste, originally a hero in silent Italian cinema, but the American distributer renamed the hero Hercules as being someone more familiar to American audiences). Richard went to bed before the movie was over, and I watched MST3K Episode 411 The Magic Sword, with Basil Rathbone as an evil magician and Maila Nurmi (Vampira) as an ugly hag; the story had to do with a young knight, George, saving a princess and slaying a dragon. I then came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update, and when I finish I will do some reading and then go to bed.
Tomorrow is the Remembrance of Venerable Michael J. McGivney, Priest (died 1890), and the Memorial of Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, Priest and Martyr (died 1941). We will return to the casino to work our eight hours, and I will finish reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. In the afternoon I will do my Book Review for the book. And the Last Quarter Moon will arrive at 8:17 pm.
Our Sunday Afternoon Parting Quote comes to us from Kenny Baker, English actor. Born as Kenneth Baker in 1934 in Birmingham, West Midlands, his parents were of average height, but he himself stood only three feet eight inches tall. He was in his teens when he went to live with his father, stepmother and half sister in Hastings, Sussex, and in 1951 he was approached on the street by a lady who invited him to join a theatrical troupe of dwarves and midgets. This was his first taste of show business. Later he joined a circus for a brief time, learned to ice-skate, and appeared in many ice shows, including Holiday on Ice. He had formed a successful comedy act called the Minitones with entertainer Jack Purvis when George Lucas hired him to be the man inside R2-D2 in Star Wars in 1976. He appeared in the next five Star Wars films though Revenge of the Sith in 2005, and played an additional role in 1983’s Return of the Jedi as Paploo, the Ewok who steals an Imperial speeder bike. He was originally going to play Wicket, but he fell ill and that role was handed over to Warwick Davis. A feud existed between him and his co-star Anthony Daniels, who played C-3PO in the Star Wars movies. He claimed Daniels had been rude to him on numerous occasions, and further stated that Daniels is rude to everyone, including fans. Meanwhile, he played the dwarf in the 1982 video of “The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats (which makes me think of R2-D2 doing The Safety Dance), and appeared in Wombling Free (1977; he met dwarf actress Eileen Baker during the making of that movie and married her, and their children were of normal height), The Elephant Man (1980), Time Bandits (1981), Amadeus (1984), Labyrinth (1986), Willow (1988), Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1989), and U.F.O. (1993, the same year his wife died). In the late 1990s Baker launched a brief stand up comedy career, and played harmonica with the James Coutts’ Scottish Dance Band at Hugh McCaig’s Silverstone Party in July 1997. Baker was depicted as a knight and courtier for a fictitious Queen Anne in Bryan Talbot’s parallel universe graphic novel Heart of Empire(1999). In November 2009 his biography, written with Ken Mills and entitled From Tiny Acorns: The Kenny Baker Story, was made available through his website and at conventions and book signings. Baker continued his association with the character of R2-D2 in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which was released on December 18th, 2015 in North America. He was going to be a member of the cast, but he served as consultant for R2 instead. In November 2015 it was confirmed that Jimmy Vee was cast as R2-D2 in Star Wars: Episode VIII. Baker had been invited to attend the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Los Angeles in December 2015, but was too ill to travel to the United States; he later met up with George Lucas in Manchester (died 2016): “I started out Ice skating with Holiday On Ice and just got offered the part of R2 by chance.”