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


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