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


  1. Fr. Jude, my wife Norma and I are attending the St, Anne's Novena and enjoying it very much. God has blessed us with you. God willing we will be with you every night. Frank Griffiths

  2. Thanks so much for your comments. I am very pleased at the turn out for the novena, and the people have proven to be so gracious. I truly appreciate their devotion and enthusiasm. God bless and
    fr. Jude