Friday, June 24, 2011

Rome - Baltimore - Louisville - Baltimore

June 24, 2011

The Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist

Peace and Good,

Sorry I'm a bit late this week. It has been hectic again. I was in Rome for a week for our definitory. This is a meeting every six weeks in which we take stock of what is happening in the order. This time of year things tend to quiet down a bit which I don't mind.

The mother of our guardian, Fr. Peter Damian Masengill, passed away, and I was to be the order's representative at the funeral. I was to fly from Rome on Sunday and arrive in Baltimore Sunday evening, and then fly out the Louisville the next evening to be there for the funeral Tuesday morning. Thank goodness I checked my e mail account Saturday afternoon after I had checked in for the flight from Rome, because the flight was cancelled. Of course, my travel agent in Rome was closed, as was the British Air office in Rome. Finally, I figured out to call the US office on Skype. I was on the phone for about an hour, but they were able to get me out on Monday. I was able to change my flight from Baltimore from Monday evening to Tuesday without a penalty (I love Southwest). All worked out well. I flew back to Baltimore Tuesday evening, and have been using the past couple of days to catch up a bit.

I finished a few books these weeks. The first was the Fourth of July be James Patterson and Maxine Petro. Patterson has created an industry of writing books along with other authors. This one was quite good. It was about a mass murderer and a policewoman who solves the mystery while on administrative leave for a shooting. The plot was good, the action believable.

A second book was a biography by Jacob Abbott on Cyrus the Great. He was the Persian emperor who conquered the Babylonians and let the Jewish people return to Israel after having lived in exile in Babylon. Abbott's biographies are always informative. They are not exactly scholarly, but they give enough information to make the plot interesting.

The third book was an Op Center book by Tom Clancy called Call to Treason. This is part of a series sponsored by Clancy. Op Center is a type of CIA but on a smaller basis. This involves a plot by a senator who is running for president who is a rabid isolationist. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either.

I'll be in Ellicott City (Baltimore) until this coming Monday, and then off to Cincinnati for a meeting of many of the friars in the States called the Chapter of Mats.

Hope you have a good week.

fr. Jude

Monday, June 13, 2011

Boynton Beach - Montreal - Ellicott City - Rome

June 13, 2011

Happy St. Anthony Day,

As you can see above, I headed back to Montreal last Sunday for the second session of the custodial chapter of Canada. The frisrs made a number of decisions concerning their future which I consider to be very wise. I think that they are on the right track. Part of my job as assistant is to offer an outside evaluation of how things are going, but that always has to be done carefully so that it doesn't seem as if the central government of the order is interfering.

The flight up to Montreal and back to Baltimore were adventurous. Given all my travel, I rarely encounter glitches. This time I had them coming and going. On the way up, they pulled me off the plane because the agent had given me the wrong ticket. On the way back, the plane was 4 hours late because they didn't have enough stewardesses. I wrote the company, letting them know of my disappointment in how things were handled. It's bad enough that they charge you for everything (luggage, a pillow, a better seat, etc.), but when something goes wrong, they don't really seem to care.

On Saturday, I gave a couple of talks at our Shrine in Ellicott City for the celebration of the feast of St. Anthony. There was a good turn out, and I was pleased with how the talks went.

Then, that evening, it was back to Rome. I'll only be here until next Sunday when I head back to the States to represent the order at a funeral.

I finished a couple of works this week. One was a series of lectures from on the Civil War and Reconstruction by David Blight. He was good, and entertaining, and opiniated. The course gave an alternate view of some of the details of what really happened in those years. I would recommend it.

A second was a novel, Think of a Number by John Verdon. It is a detective novel based on the premise of someone being able to figure out exactly what number you would think of from one to a thousand, tied in with a serial murderer. The portrait of the family life of the detective involved is quite good. It shows how one's talents can be both a blessing and a curse. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Hope you have a good week.

fr. Jude

Monday, June 6, 2011

Montreal - West Palm Beach - Montreal

June 6, 2011

Peace and Good,

So far, so good. This past week I was in Montreal for the chapter of the custody of the Polish speaking friars who are working in the Montreal area. A custody is like a baby province. There are 15 friars here from Poland, and most of them work in Polish (although two now serve in French and one in English). The language things is a bit difficult. The chapter is in Polish, with one of the friars translating it for the General and myself in Italian. I am hearing two languages at the same time, neither of which is my mother tongue. Fortunately, my Italian is good enough that the translation in my mind is pretty automatic, but I can still feel the wear and tear of it.

A chapter is held every four years to decide the future of the jurisdiction. We first discuss how things have been going, positive and negative. We then elect our leaders for the next four years. Then, we talk about the future plans. This week we are on the last element, planning for the future.

Thursday, the General and I flew down to Florida for a meeting. We had to meet with the head of a foundation down there to see if we could establish a relationship between our order and them. The meeting went very well. There is a woman, Sandy, who serves as a go-between to establish these relationships, which is very useful given that most of us friars would not even know where to begin in all of this.

While we were down there, we went to one of the mega-churches and ate in the dining room there. The General and I wore our habits. What a great experience. People were genuinely interested in who we were and asked us to tell them about being Franciscans.

I flew back to Montreal yesterday for the second session which will last through Wednesday evening.

I finished a few works. The first was the last volumes of the work of Suetonius, the Lives of the Caesars. These volumes were on the authors of that era. Unfortunately, there was not a lot of information in these that was useful to someone in our age.

The second was a series of short stories by a Russian author named Leonid Andreyev. He tends to write about biblical themes, but always from another point of view (e.g. a man who had a toothache the day that Jesus passed by on the way to his cross, the story of Judas). He also experimented with his literature, presenting what a serpent might say or the life of a prisoner who was released and only wanted to create his own prison because it was safe that way.

Finally, there was Isaac's story. Isaac was the main meteorologist in Galveston, Texas when a hurricane came in and killed over 8,000 people at the turn of the century. It was a good story in which everyone tries to blame everyone for the tragedy.

Hope you have a good week.

fr. Jude