Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Peace of Christmas

December 26, 2009

This time of the year is, ironically, quite quiet of me. While everyone else is running around taking care of holiday chores, I get to set back and take it easy a bit. There really aren't very many missions at this time of the year.

I was able to use this time to catch up a bit with my family. I spent a few days in Buffalo visiting my brother and sister. While I was there, I also visited two sisters who taught me in grammar school: Sr. Florence and Sr. Vincentia. They are Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph. My family was always close to the sisters and friars at my home parish of St. Francis in Athol Springs.

Today I will take off for Pittsburgh because tomorrow I will be baptizing my grand niece. I am on the road so much that I often miss family events, so it is great when I am able to be present.

Yesterday, I was able to have Mass at a retirement village. The weather down here was not that great yesterday, so the folks there would not have had Mass otherwise. I prefer doing something like that on Christmas to having Mass at on over packed Church. There was just a goodness to it.

I have finished a couple of books. The first is a history of the armies of the Roman Empire called Storming the Heavens by Antonio Santosuosso. It gives a good overview of how the armies of Rome changed throughout its history from a civilian force to a mercenary force made up of barbarians hired to protect the empire from barbarians.

The second book was one that I read on my new Kindle. I received a gift from someone and asked the guardian if I could purchase an electronic book. I have been so pleased with it. It is especially giving me a chance to read some of the classics (many of which are free of charge on Kindle through I finished the first volume of the Personal Memoirs of President Grant (volume one - there are five more to go). It goes from his youth to the earliest days of the Civil War. He is a fairly good author and it is interesting to read the story from his point of view, especially when I know other parts of the story from other sources.

Hope you have a good week. Here is my schedule for the next weeks.

01/03/10 - 01/07/10: St. Patrick's Seminary, Menlo Park, CA - Seminarian Retreat

01/08/10 - 01/14/10: Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, Little Falls, MN - Sisters' Retreat

01/16/10 - 01/20/10: St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, Spring, Hill, FL - Parish Mission

01/23/10 - 01/28/10: St. Gregory Catholic Church, Plantation, FL - Parish Mission

01/30/10 - 02/04/10: St. Gregory, the Great Catholic Church, San Diego, CA - Parish Mission

God bless and

fr. Jude

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Last Mission of the Year

December 17, 2009

Peace and Good,

I just concluded my last mission of the year at St. George's Parish in Valley Lee, MD. This is in southern Maryland, and the spirit down there is quite different from Ellicott City. Most of the people who live in this area are from somewhere else. That is not true of southern Maryland. It is farm country and also closely tied to the Bay and water culture. The people were very friendly and more laid back than those of us who live close to the beltway.

The theme was on Advent. The first day I spoke on the early prophecies of the Messiah (in Genesis, Numbers, etc.). These prophecies were not, for the most part, explicitly about the Messiah, but they did point toward the goal that God had in mind for us. They also speak about how that goal was deferred by our sin, but how God will make it good for us again. The second day I spoke about the later prophecies, especially those in Isaiah and Micah. I mentioned how the prophets were speaking for their own days, but the Holy Spirit had much more in mind for what they were saying. The exceptions to this are the Songs of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah and Psalm 22 which are so explicit and fit the sufferings and death of Jesus so well that one would almost swear that they were written after Jesus' death (but they clearly weren't). The third day, which included a penance service, I spoke of the Infancy Narrative in the Gospel of Matthew, and then on the fourth day which included a healing Mass, I spoke of the Infancy Narrative in the Gospel of Luke.

I tried a new dish that I had never eaten: fried oysters. They were great! The parishioners kept myself and Msgr. Carl well fed all week long.

This coming week I will spend a few days in Buffalo visiting family and then in Pittsburgh for the Baptism of my great-niece.

I finished listening to one set of CD's. The book was called Justinian's Flea by William Rosen. It deals with the reign of one of the best emperors of the Byzantine Empire and how much of what he was trying to do came to naught because of an outbreak of Bubonic Plague. You really have to like history to be interested in this book. It is heavy both on historic detail (with many digressions) and scientific information about plague.

Here is an outline of by calendar for the coming month. I will keep giving you the update as I can.

01/03/10 - 01/07/10: St. Patrick's Seminary, Menlo Park, CA - Seminarian Retreat

01/08/10 - 01/14/10: Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, Little Falls, MN - Sisters' Retreat

01/16/10 - 01/20/10: St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, Spring, Hill, FL - Parish Mission

01/23/10 - 01/28/10: St. Gregory Catholic Church, Plantation, FL - Parish Mission

God bless and

fr. Jude

P.S. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Missions and Talks

December 11, 2009

Peace and Good,

All is well. Sorry that I am a little late in posting the blog this week, but I was working hard on the CD project for the Psalms workshop. I finished it last night. It ended up with six CD's and I am very pleased with how it turned out. If you want to order it, just e mail me at It will cost $30 but I am not sure how much postage will be.

I preached a mission in St. Francis Parish in Vista, CA. It is in the San Diego diocese, not far from San Marcos where I gave a mission in October. The themes I developed were how we are called to the dignity of the children of God through our prayer (sharing in God's work of recreating the world in God's image) through our service of the broken and difficult people of this world. I spoke of how we damage that relationship with our addictions to things and attitudes. The last morning I gave a talk on some of the aspects of the Infancy narratives in Luke and Matthew. That afternoon and evening I helped with the two Advent penance services in the parish. The parish itself is quite large with large Anglo and Spanish elements along with a good sized Vietnamese contingent. They are especially committed to serving the poor (which is witnessed in the number of homeless who sleep on the grounds each evening).

On Sunday, I celebrated Mass in the morning with a lay run community in Relay. It is always like going back home when I am with them. In the evening I gave a talk on the Book of Genesis at St. Timothy parish in Walkersville, MD - about an hour away. On the evening of the 8th I gave a talk on the dogma of the Immaculate Conception here at the friary (I taped it and will have it out on CD sometime after Christmas). On Wednesday, I had a talk on the Infancy Narrative in Luke with the scripture sharing group at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Bethesda, MD, and a talk on the Psalms at Resurrection Parish in Ellicott City.

I have some great news. I had put out an all call to ask for help to get to Ghana this coming June. A very generous couple have given me a free ticket with their air miles program. I am so grateful to them. If anyone wants to send some help for this trip (incidental costs) or other trips to mission countries, we are setting up a small fund to help out with these needs.

I finished a couple of CD books. The first is The Glory of it All by Sean Wilsey. It was a difficult listen. It is about a boy whose parents break up. They are incredibly self absorbed. The new step mother is described as being a witch to the boy. He gets into all kinds of self-destructive activity, pretty much messing up his life until he is sent to a rescue program in Italy to bring him around. It shows what happens to children when parents are too absorbed with their own activities and lives.

The second book was Next by Michael Crichton. It is a book about genetic tinkering and shows some of the possible consequences of bad choices made by individuals and companies.

I also finished a spiritual reading book: Experience the Mystery: Pastoral Possibilities for Christian Mystagogy by David Regan. The book comes across like a doctoral thesis that is somewhat reworked to make it a little easier to read. His theses is that we need a way to invite people into the mystery of our Catholic Christian life in a holistic manner (and not just intellectually). He used the example of small faith sharing groups (base communities) in Latin America. The book offers some good insights, but it doesn't offer enough practical applications.

I will be in Valley Lee, MD this week for an Advent mission. In the future, I will post some of my future assignments on this site so if anyone wants to catch me in a site near your home, you will know in advance (I'll try to keep it a month ahead).

God Bless and

fr. Jude

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Week at Home

Peace and Good,

December 2, 2009

This past week has been a good time at home. I had the two periods of recollection at the weekend. Throughout the week there was a series of meetings with the community (it is called a house chapter at which we discuss what is going on in the friary and what our future plans are) and with my spiritual directees. (I do not do too much spiritual direction because I am on the road so often, but there are a few people on my dance card.

Thanksgiving was a wonderful, peaceful time at home. Br. Gerry cooked the meal, and he is an excellent cook. The meal included the Baltimore favorite of sauerkraut with the turkey. When I first heard about that dish, I thought that they were kidding. I have never run across it anywhere else on my journeys.

I think that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. For me it is a family meal where everyone goes out of the way to be kind and welcoming. It is not commercial like so many of the other holidays.

I finished one book: The Steel Wave by Jeff Shaara. It is a historic novel telling the story of D Day. Jeff Shaara's father wrote Killer Angels about the Battle of Gettysburg, and he has followed his father's example. It is good reading (not too heavy or too scholarly).

I am back in San Diego this week for another mission, at a parish north of the city called Vista.

Work continues on the psalms' CD's. There are three done, and that is about half way through.

I am still begging for assistance with my trip to Ghana this coming June. As I mentioned last week, it will cost about $2,100 for the plane ticket, and the seminary where I am going cannot afford the cost. Is there anyone out there who could help? If so, please send your contribution to me at 12290 Folly Quarter Road; Ellicott City, MD 21042.

God bless and

fr. Jude

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Eucharist: Model of Catholic Life

November 24, 2009

Peace and Good,

This past week I was out in San Diego again at our Mother of Confidence. The retreat was on the Eucharist as the model of Catholic life. Sunday night I spoke about the Eucharist in general. Monday I presented the vertical dimension of the Eucharist (that it really is the body and blood of Christ). Tuesday was the horizontal dimension (that we must form communion with each other). Wednesday, I spoke about the missionary dimension of the Eucharist (that we are called to share the faith with others). The morning sessions were on the Gospel of Luke which we shall use this coming year in the liturgy. The parish was welcoming, as were the two priest there: Msgr Sheahan and a 90 year old priest who lives there, Fr. Hopkins. The latter is incredible for his willingness to help and serve, even if his eyesight is very poor.

I flew home on Thursday and then Friday morning drove out to the Dominican Retreat House in McLean, VA. I gave a workshop on the theme of suffering, drawn from the book I wrote called I Cry to You, O Lord. Then in the evening I started a weekend of recollection on the theme that the retreat house is using this year: Behold, I make all things new. There were two major talks and three homilies. Most of the retreat was silent. The spirit of the group was very peaceful, even as most of them were discerning major moments in their lives.

I am slowly working on the psalms CD's, but it is still going to take quite some time to finish that project.

I finished three books this week. The first was Fields of Battle: the Wars for North America by John Keegan. I had read another book by him a couple of months ago. He is very good, and this particular book is unusual. It is about some of the major turmoils that defined the nation, but it also include many of his own remembrances when he visited those sites. It was a cross between a war book and a travelogue.

I finished Eleanor of Aquitaine by Desmond Seward. What a woman! If you don't know enough about her, she is worth studying. One of her major projects was to fund a monastery for women which became a refuge for "fallen" women and battered women of her time. She plotted, conspired, connived, etc. She was the mother of Richard the Lion Hearted, and the wife of both the King of France and then Henry II, the king of England. (You might remember the film Lion in Winter about her and Henry).

The third book was my spiritual reading: The Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey. He is evangelical, so his scholarship about the history of some of the books of the Bible falls short, but his insights into faith and God's intentions and human response is right on. I took one quote from the book from the writings of CS Lewis: There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every split second, every square inch of it is claimed by God and counter claimed by Satan. It speaks of the battle between good and evil that is most often fought in the most mundane of places and situation. Every choice has cosmic consequences.

I have a request for those of you who read this blog. I have been asked to go to Ghana to give a retreat for some diocesan seminarians. Normally, people who invite me must pay for my trip, but this country is much too poor. Furthermore, the province which has paid for many trips in the past just can't afford it this time. Can any of you help out. The plane ticket alone is going to cost over $2,000. If you can, could you mail whatever you can afford to Fr. Jude; 12290 Folly Quarter Road; Ellicott City, MD 21042. Thank you for considering this request.

God bless and have a Good Thanksgiving.


fr. Jude

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Boston Mission

November 17, 2009

The Feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Peace and Good,

All goes well on the western front. This week I am in San Diego giving a parish mission, but last week I was in Lynnfield, MA, giving a mission at our Lady's Parish.

The morning and the evening talks were different, which I actually like a little better. I used the themes that I had developed for Fredericksburg for the morning: St. Paul in Scripture, St. Peter in Scripture, the Blessed Virgin Mary in Scripture, and Abraham and Sarah in Scripture.

The evenings were an overview of the themes in the Book of Revelation. Both morning and evening we had a great turn out. I was very pleased with the way it went.

I am working on the psalms classes CD's. The first one should be done shortly. It can take about three hours of editing for each hour of tape, so this is a long and drawn out process.

I am also back to the translating project. So far, so good.

I finished a series of lectures entitled Masters of Greek Thought: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle by Robert Bartlett. These were CD's prepared by the teaching company. I did my philosophy courses so many years ago that it was about time that I review some of the ideas in this CD's.

I also finished a book entitles the Renaissance Popes by Gerard Noel. If this book didn't make me lose my faith, then nothing ever will. The real purpose of the book was to present Alexander VI, the Borgia Pope (as in the father of Caesare and Lucricia Borgia) as not as bad as some would say. The problem is that he was plenty bad. (Not that most of the popes in his era were that much better.) Even Catholic authors considered him to be so bad that they called him the antichrist (which, of course, the Protestant reformers immediately picked up upon and used against him and the other popes down to the present days). This book reminded me of the writings of Boccacio who spoke of a Jewish gentleman who wanted to travel from Florence to Rome of convert during the Middle Ages. His friends all tried to talk him out of it because they knew the terrible things he would encounter in Rome. Yet, he went and then returned. He told them he went through with the conversion. They asked him if he had not seen all of those terrible things, and he responded that he had. Now, they were mystified and asked him why he had still converted. His answer is that if all those things could be going on and still the Church continues, then the Holy Spirit must be behind it.

God bless and


fr. Jude

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Studying the Psalms

November 11, 2009

Peace and Good,

This past week I was home in Ellicott City. I gave a series of talks on the psalms. We had two identical sessions for each talk, in the PM and in the following AM, beginning with Monday evening and ending with Friday morning. I was very pleased with the way that the talks turned out.

The first day we looked at the psalms in general and the wisdom psalms (those which speak about the good life and how to live it). The second day we looked at lamentations, both individual and communal. That is the largest category in the psalter. I paid special attention to Psalm 22. That one fascinates me, because when you read it, you would swear it was written especially for the passion of Jesus, and yet it was written many hundreds of years before. I emphasized that since almost all individual lamentations end with a thanksgiving (called a todah in Hebrew), then Jesus' words, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me," are the introduction to a psalm that ends with a profession of faith that God would intervene. The third day we looked at psalms of trust and hope, including most people's favorite, Psalm 23. I compare that psalm to the song in the Sound of Music about raindrops on roses and warm woolen mittens. It is a series of pleasant images to remind us that we can trust in God. The last day we looked at Messianic psalms, royal psalms and songs of Zion. Psalm 45 is my favorite. It was written for the wedding of a king of Israel, Ahab, and his foreign wife, Jezebel. Yet, hundreds of years later, it was used by the early Christians as a psalm that foretold the wedding of Christ with the Church. God does truly write straight with crooked lines.

I taped all of these talks and will be editing them over the next few months. If you would like a notice when they are ready, drop at line at my e mail address,

I finished reading a second work by St. Augustine, the Enchiridion. It is about faith, hope, and charity, and it uses the Creed and the Our Father as its starting point. The thing that fascinated me is that I was able to see how Augustine seems to have gotten caught up a bit in the whole question of predestination. It is almost as if God had decided who would go to heaven and who would go to hell. You can see where the reformers such as Calvin drew their ideas when you read Augustine's writings. I have to believe that God intends all of us to be saved, yet he has given us freedom to decide for ourselves. I am sure it breaks God's heart if one of his children chooses the wrong path, but love cannot be forced.

I also finished listening to a book on CD called Leviathan by Eric Jay Dolan. I thought it was going to be about whales, but it was about whaling. Nevertheless, it was interesting to read about the harrowing journeys and adventures of those who went to sea in this enterprise.

I am in a parish in Lynnfield, MA, near Boston, this week.

God bless and

fr. Jude

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A New Parish Grows

November 3, 2009

Peace and Good,

This past week I was down in Fredericksburg, VA. I had given a mission at St. Jude Parish there five years ago. At that time, they had just moved from a funeral parlor to a facility in a strip mall (they are in a remodeled gym). The parish was just starting to take off.

It has grown by leaps and bounds. They are ready to begin the process of building a Church. The whole area is all but unrecognizable with all the building that has gone on. It is a commuter area for people who work in Washington D.C. (although it is some 40 miles away and the commute is a bear on interstate 95).

The sessions in the evening were centered on the Gospels, one night for each Gospel. In the morning, the sessions were on various people of the Bible: Mary, Peter, Paul, and Abraham and Sarah. As is common in my missions, the morning sessions were a bit more informal (as we drank coffee and ate some of the baked goods) while the evening sessions were a bit more formal.

The evening sessions were interrupted on Wednesday for the confirmation of the parish youth. There were over 20 confirmed, and the ceremony was incredibly well prepared. The bishop was great. He is one of the military bishops, Bishop Richard Higgins. (It was everything I could do not to call him Henry Higgins in the Eucharistic Prayer.) He knew exactly how to speak to the young people. He asked of them a promise of listening to God's call at least five minutes a day, a great idea for all of us.

I got to see the center of Fredericksburg this time (very nice and quaint) and saw the battle field ( I am a Civil War buff). Usually, when I travel, I don't like to see that many things because I am already overwhelmed with new things. Yet, this was well worth it.

I am at home this week giving a series of talks on the psalms. I am taping the talks (four of them of two hours each), so I hope to have the CD's available sometime around Christmas. I haven't finished any books, largely because I am reading about seven all at the same time. I guess I get bored easily, so I need to read a little bit from each one when I feel like it.

Today is my mom's birthday. It has been three years since mom and dad passed away in a car accident. Please keep them and my brother Gil (who died shortly before them) in your prayers.

God bless and

fr. Jude

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Feast of St. Jude

October 28, 2009

Peace and Good,

My week has been kind of busy. This past week I was in St. Pius X parish in Seligsgrove, PA for a parish mission. This is an area that did not have all that many Catholics only a few decades ago, but not the parish is doing quite well. They built a new church last year and used an altar from one of the churches that was closed. I always like it when we use these beautiful pieces of art in our new churches instead of having them end up in inappropriate settings. The theme on Sunday evening was the Eucharist, on Monday conversion, and on Tuesday the Blessed Virgin Mary. This was one of those parishes where the morning and evening talks were the same (some parishes prefer this because the elderly parishioners do not like to drive in the dark).

I arrived home late Tuesday evening, and flew out to Buffalo on Wednesday. The friars are having a series of meeting to talk about the proposed union of the two eastern provinces. They were originally ethnic. My province, St. Anthony, was the Polish province, and the other province, Immaculate Conception, was Irish, German and Slovak. These differences don't mean a lot today, and we have been doing our formation together for over 50 years. We will have the final vote next April when we all meet in chapter.

I finished a few works this week. One was a book called the Price of Admiralty by John Keegan. It speaks about various naval battles that changed history. He is an excellent military author.

Another was Blood and Roses by Helen Castor. This was a fascinating book. It is the history of one family drawn from a collection of their family letters during the period of the War of the Roses. It is so rare that we get to see how the great events of history affect normal families. I would highly recommend a book like this to anyone interested in this period.

For my spiritual reading, I finished the Confessions by St. Augustine. I had read it during novitiate many years ago, and I thought it was time to read it again. It is not an easy read, but there were gems to find here and there. The only thing I wish is that Augustine had had an editor, for he seems to go on forever when he begins to discuss a topic. Yet, this has been called the first psychological biography in history, and it is easy to see why. He has some beautiful insights into why we do things, and why we avoid them. His discovery of meaning in the person of Christ is profound and meaningful to anyone who has read about his floundering about in various philosophies and religions.

God bless and
fr. Jude

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Retreat in Wappingers Falls

October 21, 2009

Peace and Good,

This past week I was on retreat with a group of other friars from my province at Wappiners Falls. This retreat house is run by the OFM's of the Immaculate Conception Province, the Italian province. They offered us true Italian hospitality, with generosity and mounds of good food all throughout the week.

The retreat director was Fr. Allen Ramirez from the California Province of the Conventual Franciscans. He was very good, speaking on themes drawn from the writings of St. Clare of Assisi. We friars view Clare as the co-founder of the order. There were four words in particular that I carried from the retreat: gaze (upon the crucified Lord), meditate (use one's imagination to enter into Scripture more profoundly), contemplate (be willing to wait upon the Lord), and imitate.

This past week I completed a large History of Israel by John Bright. I had read this book many, many years ago, but it was good to go back to it to pick up insights that I had missed the first time. I find that reading any history adds to my understanding of revelation, but this in particular was helpful. It is not an easy read (sort of like reading an encyclopedia), but I slogged my way through it by setting a quota of 10 pages a day.

I also finished a tape set called Sleeping Beauty by Philip Margolis. This is a murder mystery (in fact about a mass murderer) and so it was quite bloody. Yet, he made good use of telling a story at a number of different times, going back and forth in a very skillful manner. I quite enjoyed it, more for its technical expertise than for its story line.

This week I am giving a mission in Selinsgrove, PA.

God bless and


fr. Jude

P.S. I just found out that my articles on scripture will be printed in Kenya. It is really humbling to know that people all around the world are reading what I am writing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Great Ideas: San Marcos, CA

October 13, 2009

Peace and Good,

Last week I was in a large parish in Northern San Diego County: St. Mark's Parish in San Marcos. There are about 4500 families, just about evenly split between Anglo and Hispanic. Unfortunately, I do not yet speak Spanish, so my mission was for the Anglo community (although I gave a short invitation at the beginning of the two Spanish Masses for those who were bilingual.

Sunday was October 4th. We felt that it was appropriate to begin the mission with a pet blessing. This is the first time they have had a pet blessing at the parish. There was a beautiful courtyard available, and the youth group sang and sold Hot Dogs and Ice Cream. It was a festival atmosphere. We blessed over 250 pets, including dogs, cats, turtles and tortoises, doves, parakeets, parrots, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, hermit crabs, fish of various kinds, and even a pig. There were no major problems (which given the number of large dogs was a miracle in itself).

The pastor told me about a program they have instituted for first communion parents: a two day retreat (Saturday and Sunday, from morning to late afternoon). This program has brought many people back to a regular practice of their faith, including the convalidation of many marriages. I was so impressed. If anyone is interested in more information, get in touch with the pastor, Fr. George.

I was also impressed with the Saturday evening Spanish Mass. They have two "animators" lead the community in song before the Mass. By the time the Mass begins, the community is well motivated and ready to praise the Lord to the heavens.

There was a very good attendance at the mission, especially at the healing Masses on Wednesday.

Thursday I flew back to Baltimore, and that evening we had a wedding practice for Heather Johnson and her groom Christoper. Heather is my assistant Linda's daughter. The wedding was Friday evening and went off very well.

Saturday I gave two talks at a convocation of ministers for the archdiocese of Baltimore. The two talks were the same, on the Gospel of Luke as an example of the compassion of God. These talks were offered in the contest of many different offerings throughout the day.

I am now on retreat at a Franciscan Retreat House in Wappiners Falls.

I finished one book. I cannot remember the exact title, but it was about the Civil War period from the battle of Atlanta to the battle of Nashville. That was a period of time that I didn't know all that much about, and the book was quite good. It was by the author of the book Forrest Gump.

You're all in my prayers, especially this week during my retreat.


fr. Jude

Monday, October 5, 2009

San Diego, land of sunshine

October 5, 2009

Peace and Good,

I am sorry that I missed last weeks blog, the week just slipped away from me.

I am in San Diego right now. This is my third week here. The first week I filled in for a priest friend of mine while he and the other priests of San Diego were on their annual convocation. They all gather with the bishop for presentations, time together, etc. I presented the material a few years ago and I was very impressed at their camaraderie and holiness. I was on Coronado. That island is just about the most beautiful place on earth. It is just off of San Diego, but it has the feel of an old time neighborhood. Many of the people walk or ride their bikes to Mass. I celebrated the morning Masses and as always, I offered myself for confessions after Mass. The first day there was a line of a half hour, each other day it was an hour. It was great. I am always so renewed when I listen to confessions.

Last week I was giving a mission at the Parish of the Immaculata at the campus of the University of San Diego. The Church is one of the most beautiful Churches I have ever seen. It is done in the Spanish Moorish style. It is a free standing parish (not the university chaplaincy). we have a good turn out, and I was very pleased at the reaction to the talks. The theme was Mary, the source of our joy, and I spoke on the various passages in the New Testament that speak of Mary.

I finished one book: Yanks: The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I by John S.D. Eisenhower (the son of the president). It was a good presentation, although at times he got bogged down in details about this regiment or that brigade.

Right now I am at a parish in San Marcos, north of San Diego. I'll write about it next week.

Please keep a lady named Maria Theresa in your prayers. She is suffering from cancer.


fr. Jude

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Getting Ready for the New Season

September 23, 2009

Peace and Good,

Even though I'm not teaching in grad school any more, September marks a new beginning for me. During the summer, I give retreats and conferences but there are never any parish missions. With the arrival of Labor Day, the schedule changes and I am back on the road again. Right now I am in San Diego. This week I am filling in for a pastor for all the priests int he diocese are gathering this week for a convocation. I have morning Mass and then I offered confessions. Typically, the first day I was in the confessional for a half hour. The last two days I have been there for an hour.

I am still working on a translation project for my publisher. It is going well. I just finished a major section of the work and only need to edit it before I send it in.

I finished a good book this past week. It is Prisoner of the Vatican by David Mertzer. It deals with the period of time surrounding the First Vatican Council with the declaration of papal infallibility and the period after during which the Italians took over the Papal States. Having lived in Italy for seven years, it was easy to understand some of the political machinations. It seems as if everyone was lying, everyone was seeing the situation only from his point of view. Each side established non-negotiable positions and stubbornly clinged to them (even at the danger of igniting a war).

I was worried that the author would be very prejudiced. Given the other books that he wrote, he could easily have been extremely anti-clerical. Yet, as he dealt with the subject, he showed himself to be rather balanced. I was very pleased.

It was fascinating to see how the pope could not understand how the Church could function without having political power. Yet, it is almost as if the Church is better off without it. There is a freedom when you are not associated with this power or that. You can challenge anyone who needs it when you can't be accused of siding with one or the other. This is a great difficulty for national Churches because they so identify with the ones in power that sometimes you wonder if they are speaking God's message or the state's message.

God bless and

fr. Jude

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

At home working on projects

September 16, 2009

Peace and Good,

I have been home all this past week working on various writing projects. One of them is a 1,000 submission to the Word Among Us for a book they are bringing out on the priesthood to commemorate the Year of the Priest (which is going on this year).

The other is a long term writing/translating project I am working on for my publisher. This is the kind of project that you must be meticulous and keep plugging away at (for it is a multi-year project). I tend to be a disciplined writing, setting a minimum quota for myself each day to get these kinds of projects done.

I finished two books/documents.

The first is a book by Orhan Pamuk. He is Turkish and is a Noble Prize winner for literature. His style is intriguing. This particular book, My Name is Red, is a murder mystery set in late 16th century Istambul. He is able to bring you right into the culture. The only problem with this book was its length. It is about 500 pages long, and I find that I reach a point where I just want it to end (even though I considered it to be a very good book).

The other thing I finished by Pope Benedict's encyclical Charity and Truth. It was written to commemorate the anniversary of Pope Paul's VI's encyclical Progressio Populorum, an encyclical on social justice. I didn't find it an easy read, but it is filled with valuable insights. He worries about whether we will rely only on reason or only on sentiment when we deal with economic realities. His writing is a tremendous challenge to our American system which can lean toward a brutal capitilism if we are not careful. Yet, he doesn't neglect calling people into the third world to task for their reliance upon corrupt politics and war. He speaks about the need to strengthen international organizations, reminding those who might slip into a myopic nationalism that we are part of a world which God created and for which we have a responsibility. He attacks the culture of death and greed which is so prevalent in our world. He warns of an overdependence on technology which does not give due warrant to the rights of the individual person. Most of all, he reminds us that none of this can be done well if God is not part of the equation. It is well worth reading.

I am heading to San Diego this coming Friday for a few weeks.

God bless and
fr. Jude

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Time at our Novitiate: August 29 - September 4, 2009

September 8, 2009

Peace and Good,

I spent this last week at our novitiate in Mishawaka, Indiana, giving a series of talks to the novices on a Franciscan approach to the Gospels and the Psalms. Novitiate is a year of discernment as to whether God is calling one to the Franciscan life. When I entered many years ago, it was the first contact with the friars. Now, there is a period of postulancy (a trial period) before one even enters novitiate. If one feels at the end of the year that one is called and that is affirmed by the novitiate staff, then one takes one's vows for a one year period. This is renewed each year until one is ready to take the vows for the rest of one's life.

There is now one common novitiate for all of the Conventual Franciscans in the country. This year there are 8 novices. They are all talented men and I was quite impressed at their zeal and sincerity. I started the week with a one hour talk on how the early Franciscans would interpret scripture (Saints Francis, Clare, and Anthony), and then I spoke about how a modern Franciscan would look at the four Gospels. The last couple of days we looked a bit at the psalms, given that we pray them each day in our breviary.

I got to see the campus of Notre Dame. It is very impressive with new buildings and facilities going up all over the place.

I finished two abridged books. The first was the CD's called The Few. It is about the first American volunteers for the British Air Force during World War II. It was OK, but I wouldn't exactly recommend it.

The second was in more or less the same category of being OK, not much more than that. It was The Body of David Hayes by Ridley Pearson. It is a detective novel with a number of interesting turns, but for some reason it just did not come together for me.

Whenever I listen to books like this, I alternate with a course from the Teaching Company. Right now I am listening to the Philisophies of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. It is a long course (18 CD's), so I'll be with it for a couple more weeks.

This week I am home in Ellicott City, catching up on some writing projects.

God bless and

fr. Jude

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Deacon Candidates Retreat

September 1, 2009

Peace and Good,

The work is slowly gearing up from the summer break. This past weekend I preached a weekend retreat for the deacon candidates of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. (The candidates who are just starting the program.)

It was a joy working with the candidates and their wives. A number of the candidates in earlier years of the program (the ordination classes of 2010 and 2011) were also there to give the candidates and their wives insights into what the program entails.

I based the talks on the ministry of St. Paul. Part of the reason was that with the year of St. Paul recently concluded, the ideas were quite fresh in my mind. Part of it was that Paul was the first Christian whose ministry is so well documented. Some of the themes included the idea of making sure that we convert our own hearts, that we are filled with a sense of gratitude for our call, that we reach out to the broken, that we try to be men of integrity, that we remember that it is ultimately Christ's ministry.

I have finished one CD set this week: Mission Song by John Le Carre. I love his writing. He deals mostly with spy novels. This one has to do with a plot to begin a rebellion in Kivu province of the Congo. Just having come back from Africa, I was familiar with all the terminology. It deals with colonialism and the exploitation of African states by outsiders and their own corrupt officials. There is intrigue, betrayal, honest but misguided attempts to help, etc. I would recommend this work if you can get through the various geographical references.

I am in Mishawaka, Indiana, this week giving a set of conferences to our novices. I will write about that next week.

Have a good Labor Day.


fr. Jude

P.S. I am slowly reading the Pope's new encyclical Charity in Truth. It is a challenging document, especially with the whole Health Care Debate going on. We Catholics always have to remember that Health Care is not a privilege, it is a necessity. That doesn't mean that it can only be handled in any one particular manner, but it does mean that something must be done. (I myself am quite confused over the best way to handle it.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back Home Again

August 25, 2009

Peace and Good,

I made it back home again safe and sound. Last blog I took you up to the end of the retreat with the friars in formation. I returned to Nairobi via our various friaries in Kenya. When I got back, I gave a seminar day at the house of studies on a Franciscan approach to Scripture. The first hour was an overview of how St. Francis, St. Clare and St. Anthony used scripture. The thing that was so profound about St. Francis' approach was that he believed that God was speaking directly to him through scripture. He loved the Bible so much that he instructed his friars that if they found a piece of parchment with words written upon it, they should pick it up and they should treat it with respect for the Word of God might be written upon it. The other two hours of the seminar were how a modern Franciscan could approach the Gospels and the Book of Revelation today.

The next day I gave a two hour workshop to the postulants of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Assisi. These are the sisters who cooked for us in the noviititiate and the seminary. I have always felt a great debt of gratitude toward them. I have given them conferences and retreats in the States, Italy, Romania and now in Kenya.

I visited our press in the city in Limuru. They print a magazine and have used my articles over the years in that work. It is so odd to meet people in Kenya and have them ask you if you are "The Father Jude." We are talking about me writing a book on the Book of Revelation for them.

On the last Sunday in Kenya I celebrated two of the Masses at the Nairobi parish of the friars and then I gave a talk in the afternoon with an hour of questions and answers on the faith. At the second Mass I welcomed two people into the faith and I had the privilege of confering the Sacrament of Confirmation upon them. This was the first time that I have done this in my priesthood.

I flew to Accra, Ghana on Monday of last week. That evening I gave a two hour talk to our postulants there on the Book of Revelation. Then, the next day, I flew back to the States.

The odd thing about this journey is that every step of the journey there were glitches. For example, in Kenya, there was a three day strike the days before I flew out. When I arrived at the airport on Monday, there was a three hour wait until I got to the window. When I got there, they told me I was on standby. I have learned a lesson in these circumstances. Just stand where the agent can see you and not forget you in the rush. Eventually, the supervisor found me a seat (which, of course, was double booked).

God made up for all the glitches on Tuesday morning. For some reason, when they gave people their boarding passes, they hadn't given them seat assignments. They kept calling people up to give them their assignments. Then they called me forward, but I already had my assignment. Given everything that had happened up to this point, I was filled with anxiety. When I got up there, they had changed my seat assignment from 20 C to 1 C. I couldn't believe that they had bumped me up to first class for a 10 hour flight. I had a grin on my face all the way back.

Saturday I gave a day of recollection to a group of catechists from St. Mary of the Mills Parish here at our friary in Ellicott City. It was an enjoyable group. Then, yesterday I gave a day of recollection to the parish and school staff at All Saints parish in Manassas, Virginia. Again, what a wonderful group. The theme was about finding our holiness in the heart of Jesus.

This week I will be home, doing some editing on various projects.

I finished a book yesterday: The Skull and the Jesuit by Amir Aczel. It is the story of Teilhard de Chardin and his scientific work in discovering a fossil of prehistoric man called Peking Man. The book is well written. There is a bit of pro-Teilhard prejudice when it deals with his difficulties with Jesuit Superiors and Church authorities, but overall it is well done. It is interesting to see how Teilhard tries to reconcile his faith with his scientific discoveries on evolution. Remember, Pope John Paul II taught that we can believe in evolution, as long as God is behind it all (what we call intelligent design).

Keep well and


fr. Jude

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Off to Africa: Nairobi, Kenya: August 1, 2009

August 11, 2009

Peace and Good,

Well, I finally got internet access so I can fill you in on the latest. I am in Nairobi and other sites in Kenya giving a retreat to our friars in formation as well as a series of talks.

I was originally supposed to fly over here on Delta, but a couple of weeks before my departure, they stopped flying there. (The reason is that our ATF was not satisfied with the security arrangements in Nairobi.) They gave me another flight package, which meant flying through Accra, Ghana there and on the way back with a 12 hour layover in and an 18 hour layover on the way out. That was actually not bad, because I contacted the friars there and they were going to pick me up and I would stay at the friary in Accra.

On the day of departure, I never got past the Baltimore airport. The weather was bad in New York (where my flight to Accra was to originate), so I missed the connection. It took three hours and four dropped phone messages to make a new reservation, this one through London with only a 3 hour layover. I purposely flew to New York 6 hours early lest the weather interfere again (which was lucky, because the weather in Baltimore later in the day was terrible).

The flight itself was very good, if very, very long. When I got in, my bags did not. Fortunately, I have learned always to pack a change of clothing in the carry on just in case. The first bag arrived on Sunday, the second on Tuesday (just after I left for the retreat house, three hours away). Still, the friars here and especially fr. Giles who is from my province and teaches here were great. Anything I needed, even before I asked, was placed at my disposition.

I gave a five day retreat to thirty-two of our theology students from Ghana, Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania. The theme of the retreat was the priesthood, for this is the year of the priest and that is what they are studying for at this point. I was very impressed with their fervor and commitment.

After this, we had to drop some friars off at two of the friaries, each a few hours from each other. This gave me a chance to see our friary in Seboukia, which is the national Marian shrine for Kenya. Right now, the shrine is a converted garage, but construction has begun on the Basilica and the friary. The friars have a work crew and they quarry the stone themselves. It is on a mountainside with 250 acres of property. It is going to be an incredible site.

The day after we went to a friary in the diocese of Meru (Riuru). This was the friars' first site in Kenya when they arrived 25 years ago. There is a formation house, a friary, a Church, a convent for the three resident Felician sisters, a retreat house (for 20), and a dispensory. Again, the friars are doing great work.

I also forgot to mention that I visited our parish in Limuru (one hour from Nairobi). It is high in the hills and cold. (Kenya is much cooler than I would have expected. You need a sweater each night, and sometimes during the day.) We are on the equator, but at least a mile in elevation in this part of the country. In Limuru the friars have a parish and a printing press. Once again, they're doing incredible things. They work with a group of sisters who run an orphanage and a school for young women to learn to knit, sew, computer skilles, etc., so that they can find work.

The rest of this week I will be in Nairobi giving talks, etc. Next Monday I head to Accra, Ghana, and then Tuesday to Baltimore via New York.

I finished two books. The first is called the Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors by James Hornfisher. We call many people heroes these days, but this tells the story of a group of distroyers and distroyer escorts that fought a battle against unbelievable odds to save a group of carriers and the soldiers who had landed on one of the islands in the Phillipines during the Second World War. If you like military books, this is a must read.

The other is a book called Out of Mao's Shadow: the Struggle for the Soul of a New China by Philip Pan. It is a kind of Profiles in Courage of people who fight for freedom and human decency in China. It is not all an easy read because of the violence described, but it also is a very good book. Philip Pan was a Washington Post reporter who lived in China for many years. It is good to read something like this to balance the portrait we received during the Olympics.

Keep me in your prayers as I travel through Kenya.


fr. Jude

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

St. Anne's Novena: Binghamton, NY: July 14-26, 2009

July 28, 2009

Peace and Good,

This past week I was preaching a St. Anne's Novena in Holy Trinity Parish, Binghamton, NY. This parish is an combination of three parishes, one of which was originally named St. Anne (hence this particular devotion). We had a great crowd each evening, from 130 to 160 people.

We had Mass with an extended homily, and then the novena prayers at the end of Mass. Many of the talks centered on the mercy of God, especially as seen in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The people were most welcoming and were very supportive of the message I preached.

The friars staff this parish as well as St. Cyril and Methodius a little distance away.

The closing evening we had a procession with the relic of St. Anne. I found out later that the parish has a tradition of praying with their feet in religious processions. I always find that a very healthy thing. We so often pray with our minds, and we have to find a way to use our bodies as instruments of prayer as well. I often give the example of the Whirling Dervishes (Sufi mystics who dance around for hours on end to enter into a religious trance), the rabbis at the Wailing Wall who bounce back and forth, and even our charismatic brothers and sisters who wave their arms and clap their hands as they pray. I think we could even think of certain activities such as exercise, taking a walk, dancing, etc. as forms of prayer if we use them to unite us with God.

I finished two short tape series this week. The first was called Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. It is the story of a disaster that occurred on a Mount Everest climb in which several people were killed. I am not sure I understand the lure of mountain climbing, but this book gave me a great insight to the psyche and the dangers involved.

The second was an abridged novel called Brought in Dead by Jack Higgins. It is a British detective novel and it was typically clever and enjoyable.

I also finished a volume of the Library of Christian Classics called Alexandrian Christianity edited by Henry Chadwick and J.E. Oulton. This volume is not for the faint hearted. It is a series of translations from the writings of Clement of Alexandria and Origin, also from Alexandria. They wrote at the end of the second century and the beginning of the third century A.D. One can see how many of the doctrines that we hold dear were already established, while others were still being developed. Clement ended his career better than Origin. The latter was accused of various points of heresy (e.g. that even the devils would convert before the end of the world and that all of what God created would be saved). They show their strong Greek philosophical background (e.g. putting down the physical world while seeing that which is spiritual as the only true good). Their works are heavy, and I admit I only finished them because I set a quota of ten pages a day until I finished them). Yet, I found them worthwhile for me. They certainly showed me how many different heresies were circulating in the early days of the Church, and how it truly was a miracle that the faith remained intact (which can only be explained by the action of the Holy Spirit).

As I mentioned last week, tomorrow I am travelling over to Kenya to give some retreats. I don't know if I will have access to the internet while I am there. If I do, I will blog you next week. If not, then I'll start again when I get home on the 18th of August.


fr. Jude

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Priest's Retreat on Luke: Derby, NY: July 13 - 17, 2009

July 22, 2009

Peace and Good,

This past week I preached a priests' retreat at the Columban Retreat House in Derby, NY. There were priests from three dioceses: Erie, PA, Buffalo, NY and Rochester, NY. The theme was the Gospel of Luke. This is the gospel that we will use in the liturgy this coming year, so the retreat was intended both for the spiritual edification of the priests themselves and to assist them with their preaching for the coming Church Year. There was one Scripture Professor on the retreat, and at first that was a bit intimidating, but he was so supportive and affirming that it quickly lost its fear value. Got to see my sister Margaret and my brother Tom while I was in Buffalo (it is my home town). That was good, for I rarely get up there.

I finished a few books and a book on tape.

The first book was Watchers by Dean Koontz. He is a science fiction author, and the premise of the book is that two genetically engineered animals escape from a lab: one a good dog that has almost human intelligence and the other a hideous creature that was engineered to terrify and kill one's enemies. It was almost a good against evil plot. Koontz is a good author (if you can stand the violence of his writings) and he develops the characters well. It was an enjoyable read.

The second book was a short monograph called The Awful End of Prince William the Silent: the First Assassination of a Head of State with a Handgun by Lisa Jardine. This book was only 158 pages long, but it establishes the historic situation which led up to the assassination of the statholder of the Dutch provinces during their rebellion against the Hapsburg empire. It is interesting how this assassination affected other countries, especially England where Elizabeth was terrified of assassination.

The third book was The Last Voyage of Columbus by Martin Dugard. This concerns the fourth journey that Columbus made to the New World. It shows Columbus as a great explorer but as a lousy administrator. His term as governor of the New World ended sadly, with him chained and sent back to Spain under arrest. One sees the strengths and personality flaws of this giant. One also sees the horrific way that he and other explorers often treated the native populations that they encountered in America. If you like history, this is a good read.

Finally, I finished listening to Ken Follett's Lie Down with Lions. This is set during the Afghanistan rebellion against the soviets. I spoke about one of his other books in a previous entry, and this one shows some of the same strengths and weaknesses of that other book. His hero is a woman who seeks peace, while all men are brutes and cheats and they create war. Also, like the previous book, he has a couple of sex scenes that could only be described as pornographic. I don't consider myself to be a prude, but his descriptions sounded almost adolescent in their graphic nature. The book is a bit dated due to its historic setting, but given that we are involved in Afghanistan again, it could become timely again.

This week I am in Binghamton, NY, preaching a St. Anne's Novena. Next Wednesday, I head out to Kenya to give some retreats to our friars in formation. I will place a posting next week, but the week after depends on my access to the Internet.


fr. Jude

Monday, July 13, 2009

A bit of vacation: Ellicott City and Ocean City, MD: June 29 - July 12, 2009

July 13, 2009

Peace and Good,

Sorry I haven't written anything for a week longer than normal. I have been taking a bit of time off. I only had one assignment in this entire two week period. I had a talk on St. Paul on the day we closed off the year of St. Paul at a parish in Frederick, MD: St. John's. There was a pot luck supper followed by a talk. I think that this is a great way to combine social and instructional.

I heard a story while I was there. A woman spoke of how her child had fallen away from the Catholic faith for a while. She and her husband and kids were going to a Evangelical church. Then, when this woman's grandson wanted to start sports and they practiced on Sunday morning, they came back to the Catholic Church because they had Mass on Saturday evenings. It might not be the best of reasons, but God works in many ways.

Because I have had some time off, I have finished a number of books and tapes.

One of the best was The Great Wall: China Against the World - 1,000 B.C. to 2,000 A.D. by Julia Lovell. I had never realized how chaotic China's history was. They were constantly endangered by barbarian invasions. Much of their history was a history of survival. It explains the xenophobia that one often sees in Chinese politics today. Even the idea of closing off against the outsider exemplified by the Great Wall is being repeated by creating a great fire wall against outside influence on the Internet. If one likes history, I would recommend this book. It is not an easy read, but it is very informative.

I finished a book I have been reading slowly: Absolute Power: The Real Lives of Europe's Most Infamous Rulers by CS Denton. I picked up this book at a discount book store, and the only reason I read it was because I already had it. It had some interesting accounts, but I really wouldn't recommend it.

I listened to The Bancroft Strategy by Robert Ludlum. He is always a great writer for a suspenseful adventure novel. The premise of the Bancroft Strategy is that a person who wants to help the least powerful in the world tries to decide who should live and who should die in order to make a more favorable environment for development. It is the debate between "every life counts, but some count more than others," and "every life is sacred." It points out the danger of using means for an end, even when the end is very good.

I finished a long series of CD's (18) on the Italian Renaissance by Kenneth Bartlett from the Teaching Company. This was very informative and well done. Although the professor obviously has his preferences, he gives all the parties involved a good and fair treatment.

I finished a book called Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle that Made England by Juliet Barker. It is packed with information about England at the time of the one hundred years war. Once in a while, the author gets carried away with names that don't mean all that much to us today, but in general it is an excellent read. I learned a couple of trivia points (which I love). The phrase, "put it under your hat," comes from the fact that the English archers would put their bow strings under their hats to keep them dry when it was raining. Also, the phrase "to orient oneself," comes from the fact that maps in the Middle Ages were drawn facing toward the east (the orient) because they considered Jerusalem to be the center of the world. It was only later that they used maps that were oriented north-south.

Finally, I finished listening to The Good German (abridged edition) by Joseph Kanon. It is a detective story that takes place in Germany immediately after the war. It has some incredible insights into the minds of the Germans, Russians and Americans right after the war. Why would a Jewish woman try to save her life by pointing out other Jews who were hiding from the Nazi's and having them sent to the camps? Why would scientists like the rocket engineers allow the murder of slave laborers in their factories? Why would Americans overlook the crimes of some people if they thought that those people were useful in our struggle against the Soviet Union? It is a good read (although not always a comforting read). It made me think and challenged some of my preconceptions.

This week I will be in Buffalo, New York, giving a priests' retreat.


fr. Jude

Monday, June 29, 2009

St. Paul and Religious Life: Holy Cross Sisters: Kensington, MD; June 21 - 26, 2009

June 29, 2009

The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

Peace and Good,

This past week I was in Kensington, MD, just outside of the Washington Beltway, giving a retreat to the Holy Cross Sisters. This is a residence for retired sisters who can care for themselves. They were all a bit older than I am. As I have said before, I am always so grateful when I can share my scripture learning with priests and religious who did not have the opportunity to have the scriptural background that I did. I feel privileged.

Typical of retreats on St. Paul throughout this year, the sisters walked away with a slightly different view on him. The first time one reads his letters, one can get the impression that he is arrogant. That is not really the case. There is no question that he is opinionated. But many of the angry passages in his letters are really about protecting his spiritual children from the dangers of heresy. He fears that if they were to listen to the false teachers, then they would lose something precious that God had given them. Like any good parents who sees their children endangered, he is forceful in his response.

The sisters watched a series of religious video tapes in the evening. It was a nice relaxing way to spend the evenings for them. One of their favorites was the Assisi Underground which tells the story of how friars and sisters in Assisi hid and saved many, many Jewish people during the war.

I finished a book entitled Rise to Rebellion by Jeff Shaara. He and his father have written a series of fictional history books about American history. They create dialogues for their historic characters. This book was about the period that led up to the American Revolution. It was quite entertaining.

Sunday I had Mass at Relay, a lay run community. Priests come in for sacramental purposes, but the lay boards run the life of the community. When one wishes to become part of the community, one receives a mentor family for a period of six months. At the end of the trial, one can sign up, but one is expected to serve on one of the community's committee (e.g. liturgy, social action, catechesis, etc.) When I say community, I don't mean that they live together. The focal point of their community is the church building (an old Presbyterian Church which they bought). They have one liturgy each Sunday (so that they can remain united as a faith community). I always enjoy celebrating there. People are very involved in music and preparation of the liturgy. There is a real spirit of joy and camaraderie.


fr. Jude

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Decades and decades of service: Priests' Retreat in Priestfield, WV: June 15 - 19, 2009

June 23, 2009

Peace and Good,

This past week I was in Priestfield,, WV, for a retreat with priests from the diocese of Harrisburg, PA. There were about a dozen of them, and most of them were retired or soon to retire. What was remarkable was that even those who were quite elderly (80's and 90's) were still helping out in the local parishes. There was a tremendous fraternal spirit among them.

Priestfield is one of four retreat houses in the Charleston-Wheeling (all of West Virginia) diocese. I have heard a couple of versions of how they were built. The latest was that the bishop was on a ship and was asked by some people to be a fourth in playing Bridge. By the time that the journey was over, he had been given a considerable donation (either an oil well or money from oil, again, the details are different in the various versions). The four houses were built from the proceeds of that donation. Priestfield is a wonderfully prayerful place.

I mentioned to one of the priests that I will be preaching a St. Anne's novena in July. He told me a story about his devotion to St. Anne. When he was in his 30's, he had a very serious heart attack. The doctor told him that he would never be able to work again. He prayed to St. Anne and promised that if he could perform his priestly duties, he would make a pilgrimage to St. Anne in Beauprey, Quebec. He slowly recovered, and then when he made his pilgrimage, he realized that he wasn't suffering from any discomfort from his heart condition. That was well over 30 years ago, and he has been in ministry ever since.

I finished a book on the CIA and KGB during the period that led up to the fall of the Soviet Union. The title is the Main Enemy by Milt Bearden and James Risen. It was fascinating. There is so much going on in the world that we cannot even begin to understand. We hear press reports and think that we know all the details, but there are layers and layers of truth and lies that make it so difficult to figure out what is right and wrong in the world. This book also spoke of two of the great traitors during that era: Aldridge Ames and Robert Hansen. I just don't understand how they could have done it.

This week I am in Kensington, MD, giving a retreat to the Holy Cross Sisters.

God bless and

fr. Jude

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Chance to Rest a Bit: St. Joseph Cupertino Friary, Ellicott City, MD

May 15, 2009

Peace and Good,

I have been home this past week. This has made three weeks in a row that I am not on the road. It was a very good chance to get caught up with overdue projects, to rest a bit, and most of all to reestablish my links with my local community.

I have finished a few books/CD's this past week. (I read a few at a time, so sometimes I finish a number of them at the same time.)

I listened to an abridged version of Derailed by James Siegel. This is not a book for everyone. There is a very brutal rape scene. There is a lot of violence. The premise of the book is that a man wanders from fidelity to his wife and daughter and then has to pay a horrible price for it. It is a good reminder that our actions do have consequences, sometimes disasterous consequences. I found that is was the type of book that I could only listen to in short portion because of the sense of evil and helplessness in portions of the book.

I also finished a set of CD's by Michael Beschloss, a historian, called Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America: 1789-1989. He examined various decisions made by presidents that were not exactly popular but which were nevertheless for the good of the country. I liked the fact that some of his choices were not the golden oldies (such as Washington's support for the Jay treaty and Adams choice to choose peace with France instead of listening to the mob which wanted war). I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in American history and politics. His premise is that we need courage from our leaders and not more political intrigue.

I also read a book entitled The Tsar's Last Armada by Constantine Pleshakov. It is the story of the journey that the Tsar's fleet made from the Baltic all the way to Japan in 1904-1905. When they arrived in Japan, they were utterly defeated by the Japanese under Admiral Togo. This led to the uprise in the importance of Japan and to a crushing sense of defeat and helplessness among the Russians (giving rise to a popular uprising in 1905 which was the predecesor of the later revolution during World War I). One can see how decrepit the Romanov run state was, how nepotism and favortism had sapped it of its vitality.

This past Saturday we celebrated the feast of St. Anthony with a beautiful Mass and the blessing of a shrine to enthrone the reliquary (bust) of St. Anthony that we house in the shrine. The site is based on the theme of a walnut tree, for St. Anthony lived in a walnut tree for the last couple months of his life. He was in a place north of Padua to recover from an illness, and the ground level was very damp at that time of the year. The friars built him a tree house where he might be away from that dampness and hopefully recover. (He did not, he died on June 13 of that year.) The shrine was designed by our Friar Joseph Dorniak. He is the same friar who painted the mural of the Stigmata in the chapel. His work in incredibly beautiful. If you have a chance, visit our shrine to see it. I assure you that it will bring you to prayer.

This week I will be in Priestfield, WV, giving a retreat to some priests of the Harrisburg, PA diocese.

You're in my prayers.

fr. Jude

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Finished a Large Project: St. Joseph Cupertino Friary, Ellicott City, MD: 6/1/09 - 6/08/09

June 9, 2009

Peace and Good,

I have been home for most of the past couple of weeks. It has given me a chance to work on a number of long term projects. I have just finished a very long term project - to change the audio tapes I have done over the years to the CD format. It was not simply a question of transferring the information. I edited all of the tapes to make sure that the sound quality was the best I could make them. This past week I finished the very last of the audio tapes: a series of 12 CD's on the prophets. This was a course that I taught a number of years ago. I will begin on a couple of other taping project in the next couple of months. In fact, someone this past weekend asked me to tape the presentation I was giving on the theological virtues: faith, hope and charity.

This past weekend I gave a weekend of recollection at the Dominican Retreat House at McLean, VA. The sisters there are always so welcoming. The theme that they have for this year is "Behold, I make all things new." I used the presentations on the theological virtues to show how we can change our perspective and allow God's grace to work through us so that our hearts can be made new.

This week I am on jury duty. In our county, you are assigned a week and have to call in every evening to see if your group has to report. It is a little bit of a pain, but I was glad that we were able to find a week when I was home and free to do this.

I finished a book called the Road to Kandahar: Travels Through Conflict in the Islamic World by Jason Burke. He is a reporter who travelled extensively through the Islamic World during the 1990's. This book reminds me of another which I read a few years ago: God has 99 Names. I am trying to read up on Islam and the Islamic World. The reason is that I believe we have to know more to understand what is going on. As Burke states on the terrorists, "Their violence had an aim beyond mere destruction... By sowing fear and anger among victims, by forcing witnesses to choose between support and opposition, by creating complicity among perpetrators and their sympathizers, by creating solidarity among those who have been attacked, the militants' violence aimed to build walls where they were breaking down, create difference where difference was disappearing, maintain distance where people were coming together." Those who use violence want to create communities of hate among their supporters and their opponents. The only way to truly defeat them is to refuse to play their game. That doesn't mean that one can just stand by and let them do their acts of evil. They have to be stopped. But the way that we do this cannot make us like them. This is always the danger of war, even when the war is just.

Burke had one other insight that I thought was quite interesting. He speaks about how at the turn of the century around 1900, there were great social injustices and it gave rise to the socialist and communist movement. In the 1920' and 1930's, there was social turmoil again and it gave rise to the rightist/fascist movement. Now, in the Islamic World, there is turmoil caused by social injustice, corrupt governments, rapid social change, etc. This does not explain how to affront it, but it does explain why it arose in this era. It also suggests, however, that the movement is the symptom and we have to work on the causes.

You're all in my prayers.


fr. Jude

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Catching Up At Home: St. Joseph Cupertino Friary: May 24 - May 30, 2009

June 2, 2009

Peace and Good,

I have been home in Ellicott City for most of this past week. It was good to be back with the friars. As you can see in my other blogs, I am out on the road most of the time, and that is rough for a Franciscan Friar, especially in the Conventual branch of the friars. Our name, Conventual Franciscan Friars, comes from the fact that in our early days we were the friars who lived in the convents in the cities (as opposed to many of the other friars who lived in the countryside). One of our main charisms was living in community. Thus, it is not easy to be away from home so often and for so long. This year's main theme, the writings of St. Paul, has given me a lot of consolation. We all have our special gifts, and mine, I believe, is to be out on the road like St. Paul was. I often ask people how many missionary journeys Paul made. In most Bibles, there are maps which show four journeys, but my answer is that he had only one journey. Once he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, Jesus was his home, wherever he might be. That has to be true for me as well. Wherever I am, I have to make my home in Jesus and in those with whom I am staying.

This past weekend I went down to Virginia Beach, Virginia, to officiate at the wedding of my nephew Brian and his bride Sarah. Right from the time of the practice I noticed how respectful the wedding party was. This is not always the case. Brian and Sarah had chosen young women and men (family and friends) who were joyful but also mature. The readings that Sarah and Brian chose were from Genesis (the idea that man and woman were made for each other), First John (that we learn what true love is from God's example), and the Gospel of John (the Wedding Feast of Cana, the idea that God is extravagant in his blessing and calls us to gratitude and celebration). The wedding team at the parish was most welcoming and helpful (again, not always the case in all parishes).

I have finished a couple of books. I read a book by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin called Halsey's Typhoon. Halsey was known as a fighting admiral, and normally that attitude served him well. But in December of 1944 his fleet ran into a terrible typhoon and many lives were lost. He was very slow in reacting to the disaster (possibly because shortly before he had left the troops invading the Philippines largely unprotected as he chased after an enemy fleet and was accused of abandoning his post). It made me reflect on how our actions can be so influenced by what preceded them. It is so important to take context into account for ourselves and others. The authors of this book, unfortunately, have a tendency to look for heroes and villains.

I also finished a book on tape: Ken Follett's World Without End. He is generally a good author, but he has that hero/villain tendency even more than the authors of the preceding book. All of his villains are Church officials: bishops, priests and monks. I am getting tired of books and stories in which Church figures are evil, vain, avaricious, etc. - without any virtue whatsoever. I know full well that this is sometimes true (but not always).

As I listened to the book, I found myself getting angry (and I have a rule of thumb that when I get angry, something is going on inside of my own heart). Obviously, some of my frustration at the book was what I mentioned in the paragraph above. But another part is that in these past few years I have met clergy who are into the power game. Again, they are a minority, but they can do so much harm to the Church when their only concern is their career and the power they can exercise over others. I have to keep going back to prayer on this (both for them and for myself so that I not fall into this tendency).

I finished another set of CD's: the Holy Spirit in the Bible. They are available in the catalog on the companions site, or you can order them at my e mail address ( There are 3 CD's in this set (I think that they cost $18).

I will be home again this week. This weekend I will be giving a retreat at the Dominican Retreat House in McLean, Va.

God bless and

fr. Jude

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Acts and Paul: St. Paul Parish, Kensington, CT: May 16-21, 2009

May 24, 2009

Peace and Good,

This past week I was at St. Paul's Parish in Kensington, CT (Hartford diocese). The theme, of course, was the Letters of St. Paul. We did this mission a little differently than the others that I have done. The morning and evening sessions were different topics. In the morning, we looked at the Acts of the Apostles (with coffee and pastries). In the evening, we looked at the Letters of St. Paul. The talks were complementary, but one did not have to attend one to appreciate the other. I think it worked out very well, and was pleased with the turn out.

The confessions on Monday (remember, I listen to confessions each afternoon during a mission) were light and I thought that maybe everyone had gone during Lent and after Easter. Then Tuesday came and the lines were as long as they normally are. I truly enjoy this part of my ministry, especially when I can be there for someone who might have been afraid to go to confession to their local priests (not because they are not welcoming, but because they know them too well).

I received a great new idea from one of the ladies who attended. She was talking about how her children feel that they are religious and that they pray, but they do not go to Church. She told them that when they call on the phone, she is very happy. But, when they come to visit, she is even happier. I love these down to earth examples because I feel that they really speak to hearts better than theological arguments.

I finished another book: Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose. It is the story of the Lewis and Clark exploration. Ambrose has been accused of plagiarism ( charge which he admitted). He is nevertheless a good, entertaining history writer. I enjoyed the chronicle of the courageous trip these explorers made. There is a bit of a tragedy in the story as well. It seems that Lewis might have suffered from bi-polar disorder. He killed himself only a few years after his trip of discovery. As I said last week or the week before, I feel so badly for those who suffer from mental illness and their families. It is such a difficult cross to carry.

I will be home in Ellicott City this week. This coming weekend I will be travelling down to Virginia Beach to perform the wedding of my nephew Brian. Please keep him and his bride to be, Sarah, in your prayers.


fr. Jude

Saturday, May 16, 2009

St. Paul and Hockey: Priests' Retreat for Kingston Ontario: May 11 - 15, 2009

May 16, 2009

Peace and Good,

I just finished a priests' retreat in a resort at Rideau Lakes, Ontario, just across the border from Watertown, NY. This was for the priests of the Kingston, Ontario archdiocese. Kingston is the first English speaking diocese in Canada. The present archbishop and a previous archbishop were both present. There were about 50 priests there as well. The theme was the usual for this year: the Letters of St. Paul.

It is always great to preach to priests. First of all, many of the older ones did not get all that good a formation in scripture. Before the council, most scripture classes in the seminary were a very different style than what is available today. For the younger priests, it is an opportunity to refresh what they learned in the seminary. Furthermore, since they have all preached for years, they immediately see the usefulness of various insights for their preaching and their own lives.

For me, it is an incredible privilege to be able to share what I have learned in my own training and along the road. What is especially good is that my insights will be shared with hundreds and thousands of people through the preaching of the priests to whom I am speaking.

The welcome was typical Canadian, very friendly, courteous, etc. This is also the Stanley Cup play off time, so I could see how hockey crazy many of the men are. It was an enjoyable time for me and I hope for them.

I finished a book on tape: Fire Lover by Joseph Wambaugh. It is the story of a serial arsonist who especially like to set fires in stores which were still open. The irony of the story is that the arsonist is a fire investigator. A couple of things hit me as I listened. The first is the incredible ability to some people for self-deception. They just cannot see or care that what they are doing is terribly harmful to others. The other thing is the whole question of radical evil. I understand that people who do these things are sick, probably sociopaths if not worse. How do we respond to their crimes? How do we stop them and yet treat them with dignity as a child of God? (I know that we might think that they don't deserve that dignity, but our faith tells us otherwise.) I do not mean that they should be let out on the streets again. That is not a real solution. But what to do?

You might know that when I give parish missions, I set up a prayer basket for people's prayer intentions. Then, when I leave, I take the intentions with me and pray on ten of them each morning and evening when I am saying my morning and evening prayer (from the breviary). I read one this morning of a parent whose child is suffering from mental illness. It is so difficult for parents, spouses, siblings and children when mental illness visits a family. Please keep those individuals and families in your prayers.

This coming week I will be preaching a mission at St. Paul's Parish in Kensington, CT.

God bless and


fr. Jude

Monday, May 11, 2009

Prayer and Service: Air Force Chaplains Retreat: May 4 - 8, 2009

May 11, 2009

Peace and Good,

This past week was a rewarding experience for me. I gave a retreat to Catholic Air Force Chaplains at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago. The Seminary itself is incredible. It gives the expression, "It's not home, but it's much," a whole new meaning.

But the best part of the retreat is how my own experience of itineracy was mirrored by many of the men on the retreat. There were over 50 of the chaplains there (out of 70 or so in the Air Force). They are used to basings that last a few years at the most, so they are called to serve their community and then move on to the next posting. Furthermore, many of them are being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with increasing frequency. I could empathize with the idea of serving and then moving on to serve a new community. I think that this is part of our commitment to celibacy - to serve intensely without possessing.

The theme, of course, was the Letters of St. Paul. All of the men were priests, and they had all studied theology. Yet, it is one thing to study it in class and another to pray it on a retreat (especially when you know that you will be preaching it yourself).

My time with these men reminded me of all of our men and women who are serving our country all over the world. These can be frightening times, and we have to continue to work for peace (in whatever way we can).

Going along with that theme, I finished a book called Overworld by Larry Kolb. It is a story about a man whose father was a spy and who is recruited himself to work at the edge of governmental agencies. He has insights into spycraft and what is going on in the world just below the surface. I'm not sure that I believed all of his stories, but it was a good read.

I also finished a course on Henry VIII from the teaching company (24 lectures). These are taped courses produced by college professors. One does not get credit for the courses, but there is a lot to learn. I listen to these courses in between the detective novels, etc. The professor who taught this course was a bit more prejudiced toward the Ann Boyleyn crew and away from the Thomas More and John Fisher point of view.

I will be in Kingston, Ontario this week for a priests' retreat.


fr. Jude

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Centuries of Service: Immaculate Conception Convent, Hamburg, NY April 27 - May 2, 2009

May 3, 2009

Peace and Good,

I preached a retreat for a group of sisters this past week. They were mostly from the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, but a number of other sisters from other communities also joined us. I feel a special bond with these sisters, for they are the ones who taught me in grammar school. In fact, one of the sisters whose example was a great influence on my vocation, Sister Vincentia, was there.

As I looked around the room, I realized that the years of consecrated life, if added all together, would take us back to the times of Jesus (if not before). It is humbling to share my gifts with them. Yet, it is also such a joy because they have given us so much, I truly feel that we owe them whatever we can repay in return.

The retreat was on the usual theme for this year, the letters of St. Paul. I preached on the readings for the day which worked out well since the first readings were from Acts. I notice in one of them something that I had never seen before. Remember when St. Peter heals Tabitha. I had always realized that this miracle and the one that precedes it were ways that St. Luke could show that the apostles were carrying on the ministry of Jesus (with his authority). But I never before realized how much this miracle reminds one of the healing of the daughter of Jairus. Remember what Jesus says to raise her, "Talitha qoum!". What would Peter have said to raise Tabitha. Most probably "Tabitha qoum!" Like Stephen who forgives those killing him just as Jesus did, so also Peter is doing just what Jesus did.

I finished a couple of tapes in the car. (I'm always listening to books on tape when I travel.) The first one was Truth or Dare by Joyne Ann Krentz. I was simply a detective novel (a bit more sex in it that I prefer). Yet, they talk about the ability to sense things below the surface of things. Krentz speaks of it in terms of psychic ability, but I do believe that we have an ability to sense things. I have heard many stories of people having a sudden feeling of dread, and finding out shortly afterward that someone was ill or in an accident. Or else you think of a friend and the phone rings and your friend is on the line. How did that happen? I think love and prayer and hope and even conversion are communicated at this level (as, I suppose, is sin, for when we sin we close ourselves off to others). Whether people know things intellectually or not, at some level they can sense it. There is never a wasted prayer or act of love or sacrifice.

The other book was much darker but also better written. It was a Holy in the Universe by Mary McGarry Morris. It is about a man who commits a murder when he is very young and gets out of prison many years later. It deals with the struggles and fears of adjustment to his freedom, the crime ridden old neighborhood in which he tries to live, the expectations of others, etc. Some of the characters, like the child of a crack mother, leave your heart broken. There is one redeeming character, Dolores, who always hopes, always sees the best in others. Some of the source of her outreach is a neurotic need to be loved, but even so she uses that brokenness to heal others.

I am giving a retreat to a group of Air Force chaplains at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago this week.

God bless and Shalom,

fr. Jude

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Spirit of Welcome: Immaculate Conception Parish, San Diego (Old Town): April 18 - 23, 2009

April 27, 2009

Peace and Good,

I preached another mission on the writings of St. Paul in Immaculate Conception Parish in Old Town, San Diego. What a welcoming community! The parish is situated right in the middle of a tourist area and there are people coming in an out of the Church and Gift Shop all day long. The parish community and staff go out of their way to make everyone feel welcome. This is truly a great opportunity for pre-evangelization and evangelization. Walking through the Church one afternoon to head to the Reconciliation Room, I met a group of Japanese tourists and was able to explain some of the details of the Church to them. It really is one of those cases of what I used to say to my students who were preparing for the priesthood: Ministry is what you do while you are getting ready to do ministry.

The Gift Shop is well run and readily accessible. I have noticed that many people would wander off the street and see what it offered. In our own gift shop in Ellicott City, we have seen where about a third of the rosaries sold were sold to non-Catholics (they often asked for booklets on how to pray it). We Catholics love sacramentals, and they can be an effective way to evangelize.

I finished a major project: a 10 CD set on the Book of Genesis. It is a grad level course that I taught a number of years ago. I had to redo a few sections of it to improve the audio quality, but I think it all turned out well. If anyone is interested in purchasing it, you can contact us at It costs $50 with postage. I am working on another set on the prophets. I think it will end up being 12 CD's and it should be ready in about a month's time. Are there any requests for topics that I have not yet done?

Joe Hamilton, who works with me on a number of our internet projects, reminded me that if anyone wants to subscribe to this blog, you can note it in the box to the right of the posting. That way, the new blogs will automatically be sent to you.

I have finished a book on the Mississippi flood of 1927. It is called Rising Tide by John M. Barry. It is quite good, and covers a number of related topics that give a good background to his main thesis. Being an author, I love when I find out the meaning of various sayings. He expained the meaning of the saying, "being sold down the river." It has to do with slavery. When the slaves held in the upper south were "sold down the river," they were being sold into the deep south where slavery tended to be much more brutal.

The book also talks about the phenomenon of the Klan. One paragraph really made an impression.

"American populism has always been a complex phenomenon containing an ugly element, an element of exlusivity and divisiveness. It has always had an 'us' againt a 'them.' The 'them' has often included not only an enemy above but also an enemy below. The enemy above was whoever was viewed as the boss... ; in the 1920's the enemy below was Catholics, immigrants, blacks, and political radicals." p. 154

This struck home because I have been very disturbed by the tenor of the political (and cultural) discussion in the past couple of years. There are things that must be opposed if we are to be consistent in our beliefs, but can it be done in a way that does not betray the Christian values that we try to uphold. Hate belongs to the devil, not to us. Even our friar St. Maximillian Kolbe, when asked whether they should hate the Nazi's, responded that only love conquers. How that love is to be expressed is always the difficult question, but if we end up hating and degrading others, then we are not doing the Spirit's work. This holds for all the sides of the questions, because one side or another of a dialog can want itself to appear more mature when it is really just self-righteous and subtly arrogant. I really have to keep praying about his and turning it over to the Lord.

God bless and


fr. Jude

Friday, April 17, 2009

St. Joseph Cupertino Friary, Ellicott City, MD: April 13 - 17, 2009

April 17, 2009

Peace and Good,

Finally, a few days at home. This has been a very busy mission season with a lot of travel. It was great to be back home with the friars, even if it was only for a few days.

We have been remodeling our friary for the past several months. When I arrived home, I was able to move into my new room. Originally, the rooms were quite small and we had common bathrooms. We now have a elevator (48 steps from basement to the second floor where we live). We have a bedroom, a study and a bathroom. They did a great job. The rooms are also very quiet (I'm always thinking of places to tape by daily reflections, etc.). I think I am going to enjoy it a lot.

There have also been changes in the main chapel. We have had a major relic of St. Anthony of Padua for a number of years now, a gift of the friars in Padua. It has been the focal point of our devotion to St. Anthony as the patron of the lost. Now there is a beautiful shrine in the chapel for the reliquary. It is shaped like a tree and the reliquary is in the middle of that tree. The reason for this shape is the fact that in the last months of St. Anthony's life, the friars brought him to a place named Camposanpiero north of Padua to recover for his illnesses. The ground in that region is very damp during the spring, and his health was not improving. They therefore built a cell for him in a walnut tree to let him rest off the ground.

The other change to the chapel is the beautiful painting that Fr. Joe Dorniak has done in the front of the chapel. He has painted the scene of St. Francis' reception of the stigmata that is found in the Basilica in Assisi. He is so, so talented, and I am sure that this painting will inspire many of those who visit us at the Shrine. (For those who have not visited our friary, we are using it as a spirituality center.)

I have finished a couple of books in this past week. One is an audio tape series on Mark Twain by Ron Powers. Whenever I travel in my van, I am always listening to one tape series and one CD series. I enjoyed the Mark Twain biography because I have heard so much about him and yet knew so little.

The other book I finished is called 69 A.D.: the Year of four Emperors by Gwyn Morgan. I love history, and this particular topic was important for my scripture studies. We believe that St. Mark wrote his gospel in Rome in 70 A.D. The civil war that followed the death of Nero devastated large sections of the Roman empire, including parts of the city of Rome. Were some of the descriptions included in Mark's Gospel influenced by the events of that tumultuous year? Was this part of the reason why he felt he had to write his Gospel - because things were so chaotic that he was afraid that the witness might be lost? I have to reflect on this for the next few weeks. This book is not an easy read. It gets very involved in which legion was where and when they fought, etc. Yet, it was well worth reading.

I'll be in San Diego this week in Old Town, Immaculate Conception Parish giving a parish mission.

If any of you reading my blog have prayer requests, feel free to write me at God bless and


fr. Jude