Sunday, July 11, 2010

Preaching in New Jersey

July 11, 2010

Peace and Good,

This past week I preached a retreat to the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Mishawaka, Indiana. There were also seven Carmelite sisters who joined us for the retreat. The theme was the Gospel of John, and how each of us is called to become the Beloved Disciple. There is a tremendous amount of symbolism in that Gospel, and I love unpacking it for others and applying it to our lives.

I was impressed with the devotion and simple joy of the sisters. It is wonderful that their community is getting a steady number of vocations. There is something very good happening among them.

The convent is right across the street from our novitiate. I was able to have supper a couple of times with our friars, and they always make one feel right at home. I will be back in that area next week to give a retreat to the incoming novices.

I flew yesterday to Newark, New Jersey to give a retreat to the Sisters of Christian Charity in Menden, New Jersey. I had given a retreat to another community of the same sisters in Danville, PA, either last year or the year before. The theme will be upon the books of Wisdom in the Old Testament.

I am still feeling a bit of my trip to Africa (my stomach, etc. are not quite right yet. There is such a different style of food and there are different microbes there that it usually takes me a couple of weeks to get everything back to normal. I try to offer up the discomfort for those who are suffering much more than I am.

I finished a couple of books this week. There was One Night in Boston by Allie Boniface. It is literally the story of a one day critical period in the life of a woman and the man whom she loves. It was one of the free books I obtained on my Kindle (many, many of the old books and some new ones are regularly offered for free). They do this to interest readers in the other works of the author. It was fairly good, but she tried to pack too much into that one night and at times it came across as forced.

A second book was Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Again, this was a free book on Kindle, and it is one of the classics that I have always wanted to read. It is enormously long, about 1,000 pages. Some critics of Tolstoy say that he is like God in the fact that he creates entire universes with all of the characters and all of the action that he lays out. This book is well worth reading, but it really requires a tremendous commitment. The premise of the book is that Anna, a basically good woman, leaves her husband and child for a flashy lover. That relationship eventually fails, largely because she is looking for a happiness that will never be there. She ends up killing herself. This tragic story is contrasted with another marriage which is slow to develop, but takes on the marks of domestic happiness. It is as if Tolstoy is laying out the options of life. The false path of selfishness and excitement rarely leads to true joy, but the quiet path of being true to oneself and those around one, even if that path is sometimes rocky, leads to self-discovery and peace.

My schedule for these weeks is:

July 11 - 18, 2010: Quellen Spiritual Center, Mendham, NJ - Retreat for Sisters

July 19 - 23, 2010: St. Francis of Assisi Friary, Mishawaka, IN - Novice Retreat

July 24 - 31, 2010: Chatauqua Community, Chatauqua, NY - Priest in Residence

August 5 - 15, 2010: Our Lady of Consolation Shrine, Carey, OH - Parish Novena

August 16 - 20, 2010: Maronite Seminary, Washington, D.C. - Seminarian Retreat

August 21 - 27, 2010: Ocean City, MD - vacation

August 28 - September 3, 2010: St. Francis of Assisi Friary, Mishawaka, IN - Novitiate Conference

God bless and

fr. Jude


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