Sunday, November 27, 2011

Manila - Chicago

November 26, 2011

Peace and Good,

I finished up my visit in the Philippines. I wasn't feeling all that well at the beginning of the week (a travel stomach thing), but I always carry the right medicine with me and I recovered quite quickly. I finished a series of talks to the candidates at a place called Novaliches. This is a complex run by the friars on the north of Manila including their residence, a church, a retreat house and a clinic for the poor. The deacon there, fr. John, was a civil engineer by trade, and he has done wonders in sprucing the place up.

In these two weeks, I managed to give 28 hours of presentations on Sacred Scripture. It was well worth while, and I think the friars appreciated the fact that someone had come from a distance to offer them assistance.

I flew out of Manila on Friday morning. The first flight was to Tokyo. This was my first time in Japan. It was a four hour flight, and a five hour lay over. Then an eleven hour flight to Chicago.

I always suffer from jet lag, and this is a ten hour difference in time zones. I arrived on Friday evening, and I am writing this on Sunday noon and am still under its effects.

Because I passed the international date line, I actually lost a day in flight. It still freaks me out that I technically arrived in Chicago before I left Tokyo.

I finished a few books this week. The first book was Prior Bad Acts by Tami Hoag. I had seen her name often, but this is the first time I have read one of her books. It is about a judge who takes into account the need to exclude prior bad acts in a trial about a current matter when those acts have nothing to do with the case. There is outrage at her decision, and she is shortly after assaulted and later kidnapped. There is a lot of action, and the writing is good. I would recommend it to others if you like this type of mystery.

A second book is Winter in Tirane by Jiri Kaajane. Tirane is the capitol of Albania, and it describes the lot of a man caught up in the period right after the revolution that removed a Stalinist regime from power and before things began to settle down. Everyone is either trying to continue the past or launch themselves into a future which is totally unknown to them (for they were very restricted in what information they could receive from overseas during the communist times). A lot of the hair brained plans remind me of Romania when I would visit it shortly after the communists fell. Everyone is selling something, whether it be influence or flour stolen from the job or know how.

A third book was Icebound by Dean Koontz. The previous books I read by Koontz were more horror stories. This one is more of an adventure mixed with hunting for an insane murderer story. It was good, but some of the details were a little far fetched.

Have a good week.

fr. Jude

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tagaytay - Manila

November 21, 2011

Peace and Good,

Hope I can get this posting in before the internet is lost again. It has been a bit touchy this morning.

I finished my conferences in Tagaytay, our interprovince novitiate. It was great speaking to novices from the Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. They have such rich experiences.

I came down here to Manila on Wednesday and have been giving conferences to our post-novitiate students (12) and sisters from the area (probably 60) plus secular Franciscans (5). Again, it is wonderful to share things with people who are excited to learn.

I came across a curiosity. The Philippines does not have a standard time zone. Some areas are five minutes before or after. This was the case in the US until they had to start printing train schedules and it got too confusing. They told me that they are working on it here too.

It is hotter here in Manila. I can take it for a while, but I don't think I could ever be a long term missionary in a tropical climate. It takes a toll on me.

I will be speaking with the candidates this week, and then a day of tourism if all goes well. I would like to see Corregador if that works out (where our troops were holed up when the Japanese invaded after Pearl Harbor). Douglas MacArthur had to be rescued from there on a PT boat at night so that he wouldn't be capture. He is still a huge hero here.

I finished a few books this week. The first is Without any Warning by Peggy Edelheit. It wasn't too bad. A lady author renting a beach house is deluged by a group of older ladies from her home town and a long lost friend, all of whom was a free stay at the house. They get involved in a murder mystery along the way.

The second is Augustus by Pat Southern. This is a more academic biography of Augustus Caesar. It is interesting how he turns out in the end. He is at times manipulative and ruthless, but he was probably the best of many bad choices.

The third was another murder mystery: Murder by Proxy. It was by Suzane Yound, and again it wasn't bad, but nothing I would rave over.

I hope you have a good Thanksgiving. I'll be heading to Chicago on Friday. Because of the International Date Line, I lost a day, so I will be arriving before I left.

fr. Jude

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rome - Manila -Tagaytay

November 13, 2011

Peace and Good,

I hope you are well. I am writing you from our novitiate in the Philippines. This is the first time that I have been east of the Holy Land.

This past Monday I flew from Rome to Manila via Dubai. I left Rome at 8:30 PM local time, and arrived in Manila around 10 PM local time the next day. I dreaded this very long trip, but it turned out to be less difficult than I expected. The friars met me at the airport in Manila and I stayed at our parish that evening. The weather is hot and humid, but this is not the hottest it gets. Our parish is right across the street from a grammar school with 4,000 students, so from 5 AM there was a constant background of children's voices.

Later that morning the friars drove me out to Tagaytay. It is about an hour outside of Manila and in the hills, so it is quite a bit cooler. This is where we have our novitiate. The town actually has quite a few houses for religious communities. It is a beautiful area, on the side of an active volcano (which has not exploded now for 120 years.

We have five Philippino novices, three from Vietnam and two from Sri Lanka. They use English as the common language, although it really isn't the mother tongue of any of the friars here. I am presenting a workshop of the Gospels and the Psalms to them. It will be here a week and then in Manila a week.

Being the Assistant General, I realize that I represent the larger order to the friars, and it is good for them to see and hear me to remind them that we are much larger than their local reality. Also, being so far off the beaten path for the friars in this part of the world, my presence basically says that we care about them and want what is best for them.

I finished a few books. The first is a book called A Mind at Peace by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar. It is a book that had been recommended by a Turkish authors that I read, Orhan Pamuk. The book presents Istanbul as a city which is caught between the east and the west, and which suffers from an identity crisis and a malaise as a result.

The second book is the Great Boer War by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He is the author of the Sherlock Holmes books. This was a history of the war between the British and the Boers (the Dutch settles in South Africa) around the year 1900. Unfortunately, he has the tendency of British authors of his era to name every regiment, every officer killed, etc.

The third book was called Virgin Soil by Ivan Turgenev. It is about a couple of revolutionaries who really don't end up getting much of anything done. They talk a good talk, but they are completely undependable and unrealistic. Their idealistic view of the peasants is sadly crushed when they are rejected and betrayed by them. One of the main characters ends up killing himself rather than go to jail. The book is quite good, and it is viewed as one of Turgenev's best.

I hope you have a good week.

fr. Jude

Wednesday the friar's

Sunday, November 6, 2011


November 6, 2011

Peace and Good,

It is so rare that I get to write only one city under the title. I have been home at Santi Apostoli all week for our definitory meeting.

The first few days of the week I hosted one of the friars from my province. I still don't know Rome well enough, but it is great to walk someone through that which I can share. Then, beginning Wednesday, we held our definitory. We have one new Assisitant General, fr. Benedict Baek from Korea. He takes the place of fr. Vincent Long who was made a bishop. There is so much for fr. Benedict to learn. I know what he is going through because I was there only a year ago.

The meeting went well. The Minister General uses a true system of collegiality. It takes longer to discuss things, but it works out much better in the long run because all of us can embrace the final decision.

We finished yesterday, and I am using today to catch up on daily reflections, etc. before I head out on my next journey: Manila, Chicago, Hartford, New York, Baltimore and Rome. I leave tomorrow evening for that round the world trip.

I finished a few books. The first is the Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. This is the second book that they wrote which I have read. The hero is a detective named Pendergast who comes from New Orleans. The villian in this book is his brother Diogenes. The writing is good and the story is exciting. I would recommend any of their books.

I read some more short stories by Joshua Scribner. One of them was quite strange about a series of women who are involved in some sort of quest and each of the women except one dies in the course of the story. It turns out to be a phychological parable of a woman shedding the various personalities she has acquired in his dissociative state. The title of this story is Tortured Spirit. The other stories are called Three Mindful Experiements (all dealing in some way with electricity and emotions).

I also read Mudfog and other Sketches by Charles Dickens. These stories have an almost Mark Twain spirit to them. They are clever.

Have a good week.

fr. Jude