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