Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ellicott City - Cincinnati - Buffalo - Pittsburgh - Ellicott City

July 5, 2011

Peace and Good,

I hope you all had a good 4th of July weekend.

This past week I was in Cincinnati, at Xavier University, for our Chapter of Mats. This title comes from a meeting of the friars in 1221 when Francis asked all of the friars to gather in Assisi for a chapter. There were between 3,000 of them and 5,000. In fact, there were so many that there was no room in the homes and the friars had to sleep outdoors upon mats (hence, the chapter of mats).

This gathering was of 260 friars from the States, Canada, England, Ireland, and representatives from Mexico, Costa Rica, India, Honduras, Russia, etc. We gathered for a week of talks and discussion on how to be friars in today's world. The gathering was very fraternal, and the weather cooperated enormously (low hunidity, which is a bit of a miracle in southern Ohio in late June). We spoke about trends in the world and the Church over these coming years, and also how we can look back at our tradition in order to find ways to respond to these trends.

On Friday I traveled to Buffalo for the funeral of the oldest friar in my province. Fr. Aurelian was 93 years old. He was a bit of a character, but also a humble, obedient friar. He taught Latin for many decades in the high schools of the province, and he was also novice master for a time.

On Saturday I traveled down to Pittsburgh to baptize my great nephew and great niece. Much of the extended family gathered for the weekend, and it was great seeing all the in-laws.

On Monday I came back to Ellicott City for a series of dentist appointments, and then tomorrow it is off to Rome.

I finished a few books.

The first is the Life of St. Francis by Paul Sabatier. He is a Protestant who loved St. Francis and wrote about him during the 19th century. He has many insights as an outsider, although at times he pushes the image of Francis as rebel a bit too much (given his non-Catholic background). Still, today, his biography is considered to be a classic.

The second was a short work called Creatures that once were Men by Maxim Gorky. I have written about Gorky before. He has an incredible ability to present a whole picture, especially of the poor in Russia around the time of the revolution. He turned out to be a communist stooge in later years, but his earlier writings are incredibly good, including this story which tells of a group of men who live in a poor men's hostle (more of a hovel than a true building).

The third book is the Memoirs of Shirlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. Talk about classics. Yet, for all that I have seen in movies about Shirlock Holmes, I had never read the original. He is a bit darker of a figure than one sees in some of the movies. It is well worth reading.

Hope you have a good week. I will be in Kenya for the next couple of weeks, so I don't know how much acccess I will have to the internet, so you might not hear from me for a couple of weeks.

Take care and
fr. Jude


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