Sunday, April 24, 2011

Haooy Easter

April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

I have been in Padua all this past week, up in the Basilica of St. Anthony. I went there to help out with confessions. There are tons of people who go up there from the entire region. I am able to listen to confessions in both Italian and English. Actually, the majority of the confessions were in a version of the local dialect. I had to place close attention, but I was able to follow what they were saying.

It was good to be able to sit in the confessional again. This is one of the favorite parts of my priesthood. Sometimes, you get to offer a good piece of advice. Sometimes, you just listen and commiserate. All the time, you can say at the end that their sins are forgiven.

I also met with the editors of the Messenger of St. Anthony, the magazine for which I write, to speak about some projects. I have been writing for them since 1982, and their magazine sends out 60,000 copies all around the world.

It is strange to be in a part of Italy where pasta is not part of every meal. They eat a lot more rice and other dishes for the first plate than in other parts of Italy.

I finished a couple of books. The first was Herodias by Gustave Flaubert, a French author from the 19th century. Herodias is the mother of Salome, the one who asked for John the Baptist's head on a platter. Authors of the 19th century were fascinated by Biblical themes (at least Freanch and Russian authors) and they would not only tell the story as it is told in the Bible, they would complete it with more detail that they had made up. Often, if you read between the lines, you can tell what was going on in that author's society.

A second book was the Grand Canyon by John Muir. He was a naturalist who visited the natural wonders in the Western States and Alaska during the 19th century. His writing is excellent, and you can see how much he saw the face of God in whatever he encountered. He was largely responsible for the development of the national park system.

I am off to Malta tomorrow to begin a province visitation (like the one I did in the mid-western province in the States). This time, though, the distances are much smaller. Malta is a relatively small island with a population of 400,000 in all. Interestingly, they are descendants of the Phoenician people who came from Lebanon, so their native language is Semitic, like Hebrew and Arabic. Nowadays, almost all of them speak either English or Italian, so I should not have too much difficulty getting around.

Have a good week.

fr. Jude

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Brunswick - San Antonio - Baltimore - Rome

April 15, 2011

Peace and Good,

I finished off the first part of my canonical visitation by visiting San Antonio. I was there with the Minister General in January. It is a formation house with a few friars in residence who work outside the house in parishes, libraries, etc.

The spirit of the house is very good. There is an older friar in residence there whose health has become tenuous. I am so impressed by his spirit of joy, and by the care that the friars give him. That is one thing that I have seen all throughout this province, that they care well for their older friars. The goal is to keep them home in their friaries as long as is possible. I think it gives great witness to our world today.

My stop in Baltimore was really just to unpack and repack for my trip back to Rome. I arrived here on Saturday night and on Monday morning we began one of our marathon definitory meetings.

Sunday afternoon I got to meet Sr. Denise Boyle who is the director of Franciscans International. That is a group that lobbies at the United Nations for causes that are important to Franciscans all throughout the world.

The definitory is proceeding as normal. I am very impressed at the collaborative spirit of the friars on the definitory. There are no ego's trying to take over, no one defensive. When we confront difficult situations, there is only a spirit of "what is the best that we can do." There is even a realization that there are situations in which nothing can be done right now, so we have to leave it in the hands of God and hope when the time comes to act, we will recognize it.

We finish our definitory tomorrow, and I am going to scoot up to Padua to be at the Basilica of St. Anthony for Holy Week. I wanted to go there to be available for confessions during Holy Week.

I finished a couple of books. The first is Innocent as Sin by Elizabeth Lowell. It is an international detective/spy sort of book concerning an international arms merchant. It is not bad, but probably not the first on my list of recommendations.

A much better book, if you like vampire stories, is The Passage by Justin Cronin. Rather than calling it a book, it should really be called a saga. It goes on forever, and really entails three separate stories, all of which are good in their own right. This is one that I have no difficulty recommending, in fact, I highly recommend it (Again, as long as you don't mind the vampire motif),ì.

Hope you have a good Holy Week.

fr. Jude

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Carey - Mt. St. Francis - Brunswick, GA - San Antonio

April 6, 2011

I hope that all is well and that your Lent is proving to be a very spiritual time. I'm still on my visitation of Our Lady of Consolation Province.

I visited Carey, Ohio. Those who have read this blog for a while remember that I preached a novena there this summer in honor of the Assumption. There are ten friars there, and they have a varied series of apostolates. There is the shrine ministry with pilgrimages of people arriving from all over the mid-west. There is the local parish. There is a retreat house, especially for teens and for self-help groups. One friar is working with the Mission Association to gather funds for the missions. One friar is in a rest home run by the sisters. Even though the friars are running in many different directions at once, they have a good sense of community and a joyful spirit that is heartening.

I drove back from there to Mount St. Francis to drop off the car that they had lent me, and then I flew to Brunswick, Georgia (actually flying in to Jacksonville and then driving north for an hour). There are six friars in the area. There is the main parish in Brunswick (with English and Spanish ministry), a chapel on Jekyl Island, a parish in Darien, GA, a federal training center for homeland security where the friars have mass, and the ships that come in from around the world upon which they occasionaly have mass. In addition to all of this, one friar is in full time prison ministry, and one works for the marriage tribunal in Atlanta. You would think I was talking about twenty friars and not just six. They do a great amount of service. They are also working at forming a closer community. I was impressed.

The city of Brunswick is beautiful, a smaller Savanah. There are the beautiful tree lined streets, hanging with Spanish Moss. There are parks all throughout the town. It is not very big, and I would worry about evacuating during a hurricane (for there are lowlands for many miles around), but it really is a nice place to visit or live. Walking down the street, no one passed me without greeting me.

I am now in San Antonio visiting our house of formation here. The students go to Oblate School of Theology down here. There are a few older friars who reside there and form a stable community, and then there is the formation community which comes and goes depending on the season.

From here I will fly back to Ellicott City and then off to Rome.

I finished a book entitled Catch a Falling Knife by Alan Cook. The "detective" is a retired university professor who lives in an elderly housing development. The story is good, and the characters are likable.

A second work was American Notes by Rudyard Kipling. This is the Kipling of India fame. This particular work is about a visit to the States. Typrical of Kipling, he is racist and demeaning, and he is particularly scathing to many of the peculiar American customs that he encounters. This book was never published in wide distribution because of fear concerning the reaction of the American reading public. Given all of that, he is still quite funny at times and the book was overall enjoyable.

Have a good week.
fr. Jude