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


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