Friday, September 23, 2011

Castro Valley - Ellicott City - Brooklyn - Clifton, NJ - Vienna

September 24, 2011

Peace and Good,

Our semi-annual meeting of the provincials of the North American, British and Irish Conference went quite well. We discussed a number of topics that deal with the life of the order (e.g. what we did in Kenya at the Congress of Nairobi talking about solidarity of resources in the order and our multiculturality), the future (the coming General Chapter in 2013), and our own projects (e.g. how we can encourage the friars to continue in their scholarship.

Saturday we celebrated the solemn profession of two of our friars in Baltimore. fr. Nader is studying for the priesthood in San Antonio and fr. Nick is teaching at our high school in Athol Springs, NY.

Sunday, I was in Brooklyn for a commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the martyrdom of two of our friars in Peru. They were from Poland, and their "crime" was that they were feeding the poor. The communist rebels of the time, the Sendero Luminoso, killed them and another diocescan priest from the States. They are all up for beatification.

On Monday, I visited my publisher, Catholic Book. With my travel schedule, it is tough to keep up with my daily reflections and other projects, but I hope to be able to do some smaller projects for them over the next couple of months.

Tuesday evening I flew out to Vienna, Austria. We have a meeting here today with the General Delegates of Austria, Switzerland and Belgium. It is a beautiful city. It reminds me of a city that was built as a capitol of an empire (the Austro-Hungarian Empire), but which has lost its empire. Austria is a country of only about 7 million people, and the capitol of Vienna is almost too grandiose for such a small country.

I finished a few books. One was Retribution by Max Hastings. It was a book on the Pacific war during the Second World War. Hastings is a good writer, and the book offered great insights into what actually happened, especially the tension among the US military leaders (the army vs. the navy).

A second book was Botchan by Soseke Natsume. It is the story of a school teacher in a small Japanese village and the pety politics among the faculty of the school. There are no real heroes in the story, and the style is very different from many of the short stories written by Japanese authors of the era.

The third book was Vendetta by Honore de Balzac. It is a Romeo and Juliet story set in the period right after the fall of Napoleon in France. A Corsican family who made out well during the reign of Napoleon is torn apart when the daughter falls in love with the son of their sworn enemy.

Hope you have a good week.
fr. Jude

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mishawaka - Mount St. Francis (Louisville) - Chicago - Castro Valley (Oakland)

September 14, 2011

Peace and Good,

Sorry that I have not written in a bit. I have been on the road and it has been difficult to obtain an internet connection at times.

The last time I wrote I was in Mishawaka (South Bend, IN)giving a workshop on the Gospels and the Psalms to our novices. There are seven of them from our US provinces and England. The week went well. Friars love Sacred Scripture, and it always helps to ask why things were written the way they were and what the meaning of them is for us today.

I drove with another friar down to Mount St. Francis, Indiana. On Labor Day we had a couple of meetings. One of them was to decide to build another friary for the friars working at our retreat house in New Mexico. The way things are set up in the order, there are various limits to how much can be spent by each level of government. Building a friary required the permission of the provincial chapter, a gathering of over 30 friars.

The day after Labor Day I flew to Chicago to spend the week with out friars who live close to Loyola University on the north side of the city. I have to admit that I was very tired from all the travel I have been doing this summer, so this stay was more of a rest than anything else. I visited the Art Institute a couple of times, especially spending time in the Impressionists section and the room dedicated to El Greco. It was a good, relaxing week and I feel ready to start the journeys again.

This week I am meeting with the provincials of all the US and Canada jurisdictions at our friary in Castro Valley. We meet every six months to discuss joint projects that we are committing ourselves to. This is a wonderful group of men who are really dedicated to the good of the friars. They are the ones who chose me for my responsibility as Assistant General (one year ago next week) and I feel humbled that they trust me so much, which is evident in our group and one on one meetings.

Over this week I also finished editing the next edition of the Lectors' Wookbook, a book that outlines and explains the readings for Sunday throughout the Church Year. This one that I edited is not for this coming year but rather for the year after that.

I finished reading a few books. The first was a biography of Cleopatra by Jacob Abbott. He is the author who wrote a series of short biographies on historic figures for students in England around the turn of the 19th century. It was good, but one day I would like to read the new biography on her that has recently been published.

I finished a mystery called the Incumbant by Alton Gansky, a novel based on the idea of a political prank gone wrong. It was not a bad read.

I finished a collection of short stories by Nathanael Hawthorne called the Great Stone Face. The title is based on the prediction that a great man would be born who resembled a face in the side of one of the White Mountains in northern New England. The great man turns out to be a humble, wise man who by his simplicity bring joy and wisdom to others. The other short stories were entertaining as well.

I hope you have a good week.

fr. Jude