Monday, October 10, 2011

Rome - La Verna - Rome

October 11, 2011

Peace and Good,

The weather in Rome is beautiful. It has been cool the last couple of days, but today promises to be a warm fall day.

This past week I spent several days with the rest of the General Definitory at La Verna in north central Italy. This is the mountain upon which St. Francis received the stigmata, the wounds that Jesus bore. He is the first documented case of the stigmata in the history of the Church. (When St. Paul says he bore the wounds of Christ, we believe he is referring to the scars from the beatings that he has received.) St. Francis has gone up to mountain to pray for the 40 days before the feast of St. Michael. (He always had a special devotion to the angels.) During his prayer, he saw a Seraph angel upon a cross descend and, when the vision was over, he had the wounds of Christ.

Like any authentic mystic, he was more embarassed by this phenomenon than proud. Most of the friars did not even know about it until two years later when he died. Francis had always tried to follow the example of Christ, and Christ let him follow that example to his very death.

Our retreat was preached by Fr. Giacomo Bini, an ex general of the OFM friars (the ones who wear brown habits). He is always excellent and challenging. We were there together with the other general definitories of the OFM's, the Capuchins, and the TOR's (Third Order Regular). It was good to talk about our common difficulties and joys. Sometimes you get so caught up in your own problems that you fail to realize that everyone else is going through the exact same thing.

I am back in Rome for the week. My brother and his family and some cousins are visiting, starting later today.

I finished a few books.

There is Code to Zero by Ken Follett. It is the story of Russian spies who try to destroy the first American rocket to fly into space. It is a spy/mystery sort of book, including a case of amnesia. It is actually quite a good read.

The second was a series of lectures from the teaching company (36) on the Era of the Crusader by Kenneth Harl. The Crusades is such a messy and confusing era. This series clearly outlines the historic and social factors in play which led to the launcing and the ultimate failure of the crusades.

Finally, there is The Cat who dropped a bombshell by Lilian Jackson Braun. This is a murder mystery in the style of Garrison Keeler along with two siamese cats, one of which is instrumental in solving the mystery. It is a cute short account, worth a read.

Hope you have a good week.

fr. Jude


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