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


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