Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Madrid - Ellicott City - Mishawaka

August 30, 2011

Peace and Good,

Last Sunday was the last day of World Youth Day in Madrid. I flew out the next morning, and considering that there were hundreds of thousands of young people flying out, the airport wasn't really as chaotic as I would have thought.

I flew right into Ellicott City (Baltimore) where I spent the next few days catching up on doctor's appointments and other little projects. I always set aside mindless projects for the days after I travel when the jet lag keeps me from being able to think all that well.

I was on the east coast during the earthquake. I have been in earthquakes in a number of countries, and right away realized that this was at least a moderate one. I wasn't all that surprised when it measured 5.8.

I also just got out of Baltimore before the hurricane closed the airport. It was a bit bumpy on the way up, but once we got past the storm, things were radically different.

I am in Mishawaka (South Bend, Indiana) this week to give a workshop to the novices on the gospels and the psalms. There are seven of them from England, Nigeria, and the US. St. Francis told us that the style of life that we were to live was to live the Gospels, so it is good to know them well. Likewise, we pray the psalms several times a day when we pray our Divine Office, so it good to know that the symbolism means for they were written over 2,000 years ago in a primitive language (Biblical Hebrew).

I finished a few works. The first was a set of CD's called Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. It is about two sisters who start out in Shanghai just before World War II and who emigrate to the States where they face innumerable difficulties because of their being Chinese. The book is good both for knowing another culture and realizing how prejudiced we as a nation were against east Asians.

A second work was Callista: A Tale of the 3rd Century by John Henry Newman (Blessed Cardinal John Newman). He writes about a martyr for the faith in North Africa. His style of writing in ponderous, with long, meaningful speeches. Sometimes, it is better to imply things without having to say it out loud over and over again.

The third work was the Death of Ivan Ilich by Leo Tolstoy. This was a masterpiece of literature in which he recounts the thoughts of a man who is dying and the reactions of his friends and family. They cannot really understand, they blame him for his illness, etc. He feels all alone and confused and angry. He slowly longs for the death that will set him free from his terrible suffering. It is truly worth reading.

Hope you have a good week and a great Labor Day Weekend.

fr. Jude

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cracow - Ostrowiec - Warsaw - Madrid

August 22, 2011

The Queenship of Mary

Peace and Good,

Hope you are all well as the summer quickly draws to an end. This has been a busy couple of weeks for me.

Last Saturday, nine days ago, I was in southern Poland for the 70th anniversary of the death of St. Maximillian Kolbe in the concentration camp in Auschwitz. We had a Mass right outside of the building where he died, giving his life for the sake of another prisoner.

The next day, one the friars drove me to see a bit of Cracow. This was my first time in Poland, and the city is famous for its beauty. We have the oldest church in the city. We walked around a bit, and then he drove me to Warsaw for the next part of our visit, via Ostrowiec. Ostrowiec is the home city of my mom´s parents. They left there for the States 97 years ago. It is not a big city, but rather a big town. Some day I will go back to visit a bit and see if here are any records in the Churches of my grandparent's baptism.

In Warsaw, we went to Niepicolanow, the community that St. Maximillian founded. There are still 150 friars there. We celebrated the Assumption in the Church there with thousands of people. The cardinal/archbishop of Warsaw was the main celebrant.

The next morning we all flew out to Madrid for World Youth Day. It is actually closer to say World Youth Week. We stayed at the high school run by our friars in Madrid. They were incredible hosts. Some of the events saw over a million young people gathered for Mass and adoration. The only problem was that it was hot, hot, hot. About 100 degrees each day.

I read a lot in the papers about the protests against the pope's visit, but I have to say I saw only two cardboard signs in windows thoughout the whole visit. This is a time of the year that there are very few tourists in town because of the heat, but the streets were packed all day long and even most of the night. (They eat supper late here, at the friary at 9 PM.)

Here at the high school we had sudents from Spain, Italy, the States, Poland, Croatia, Russia, etc.

I finished a few books this week. The first is a book called the Gospel of Matthew, part of the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture. The book was by Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri. It was a great commentary with some insights that I had never seen before. I would recommend it and probably the other books in that series.

The second was a short story called Strong as Death. It was written by Guy de Maupassant and dealt with a man who fell in love with a married woman and then her daughter in Paris during the 19th century.

Finally, there was a free book from Kindle (my e reader) called the Potluck Club by Linda Evans Shepherd and Ev Marie Everson. It was a Christian mystery book. The Christian part is always present but really not pushy. The mystery part is good. It deals with a group of ladies from a Church who gather once a month for a pot luck supper and prayer (along with a good dose of gossip). The characters are believable and engaging. It was well worth reading.

Hope you have a good week. It's back to the States for me today.

fr. Jude

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ellicott City - Rome - Harmesh

August 13, 2011

Peace and Good,

I am writing this blog from southern Poland. The entire General Definitory is here for the 70th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Maximillian Kolbe. We arrived here yesterday, and today we went to Auschwitz for a tour of the camp where our brother franciscan died in the starvation bunker. Remember, Kolbe was already famous for his work in promoting devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He had begun a magazine that had over a million copies a month. He had a daily newspaper with 300,000 copies a month. He had a radio station. He began a mission in Japan (Nagasaki). He was arrested by the Nazi's because he was a leader of culture in Poland.

One day a prisoner escaped and the rule was ten prisoners had to die in the starvation bunker when that happened. He was not chosen, but one man who was chosen cried out that he would never see his wife or children again. St. Maximillian broke ranks and offered himself in place of that man. He survived in the bunker (although he was very ill most of his life) and killed on the vigil of the Assumption. Tomorrow we will be walking from the friary to the camp to celebrate Mass where he died.

St. Maximillian is the patron saint of intervenous drug addicts (for he was eventually killed with an injection of carbolic acid).

From Poland, we will be going to Spain for World Youth Day.

I finished a couple of books. One was a book called Hallowland by Amanda Hocking. She is interesting. She could never get published, so she published her own books on Kindle e books and she is now a millionaire. The story is a standard Zombie story, but not all that bad.

A second book was the Other Bolyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. This is the story of Ann Bolyn's sister, who also had an affair with King Henry VIII. It is written as a bit of a scandal sheet, but nevertheless was still good.

Have a good week.

fr. Jude

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ellicott City - Halifax - Ellicott City

August 7, 2011

This past week I was visiting a new Franciscan foundation in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They were founded by a former friar, and for the past few years they have had a loose connection with the Conventual Franciscans. Yet, in Rome, we didn't know much about them. I went and offered to give a retreat on the Gospel of John.

There are three groups: brothers (some of whom are priests or studying for the priesthood), active sisters and contemplative sisters. I didn't know what to expect, because some of the new Franciscan movements can be a bit extreme. They were balanced and filled with joy and charity. They are doing everything right as they start off their communities, and I really think God will bless them abundantly.
They are growing nicely, but they are cautious not to grow too quickly lest they loose track of what they are all about.

The weather in Halifax was a bit challenging (it has been a bad summer and quite cool), but the countryside was spectacular (

I finished a number of books with all of the travel I have been doing. The Jensen Directive and the Prometheus Deception, both by Robert Ludlum. Both of these a typical Ludlum novels in which you don't really know who is on which side until near the end. The are turns and twists all the way through. The Jensen Directive is about an agent who has become a private contractor. He attempts to save a world figure who seems to be promoting peace. The man is killed and Jensen is blamed. The Prometheus Deception involves a plot created by a secret organization which claims to be working for the government but which is actually opposing it.

I also read Travels in Alaska by John Muir. You might remember that I read another Muir book. He helped found our national parks. His descriptions of the glaciers and rivers and wild life show what a mystical experience nature was to him.

Finally, I listened to Our of Egypt: Christ the Lord by Anne Rice. I was very hesitant to listen to it, because in the past I had read a number of her vampire novels and I didn't know how she would handle the story of Christ. I was pleasantly surprised. She did very good research, and while I might not agree with everything she wrote, I have to admit that she wrote it in a very appealing way. It is a good meditation on the time from when Jesus came back from exile in Egypt until he was lost in the temple. It is well worth a read.

I hope you have a good week.