Monday, December 26, 2011

Rome - Ellicott City

December 26, 2011

Boxing Day

Peace and Good,

Some of my readers might be familiar with Boxing Day, but for those who are not, in the 19th century, servants were busy on Christmas Day in England. They did not have time to celebrate the holiday. Therefore, the next day was set aside for them to open their Christmas gifts and take the day off. It was the day they received and opened their Christmas boxes.

I finished off my meeting in Rome. It went through to Wednesday evening. As is typical, we covered topics about the friars from all over the world. This past week we also listened to the annual reports of the Justice and Peace coordinator, the director of the office of ecumenism, the head of our web and communications office, and the editor of our official order magazine.

Friday I travelled from Rome to Baltimore via London. I always fly that route because it is on British Air and thus I keep up my frequent flyer privileges, and also it flies in directly to Baltimore and it is easier for the friars to pick me up. For some reason, the flight just seemed endless this time. We were flying against heavy head winds, so it took an hour longer than scheduled. Then, when we arrived, they had a lot of difficulty opening up the cargo doors so the baggage took over an hour to arrive. Yet, I arrived safe and sound so I shouldn't complain.

Yesterday, Christmas Day, and the day before I spent some quiet time to get over some of the jet lag. I will be flying out later today to Los Angeles to visit a community of Korean friars there, and then on Wednesday I head out to Seoul. I am doing a visitation of their province, which means visiting every friary and talking with every friar. Most of this will be through translators, but sometimes what is said is not as important as is the fact that we are present and reminding the friars that we are part of a world wide order.

I finished a few books. The first was called The Strength of the Story by Jack London. It was a series of short stories, some of which were futuristic (at least for when they were written), others were etiological (talking of ancient or pre-historic times and tracing our modern virtues and vices back to situations taking place in those days). I have to admit that I didn't think it was his best work.

A second book was the Dark of the Moon by John Sanford. It is the story of a series of murder that take place in the northern midwest and the state investigator, Virgil Flowers. The book gets the flavor of the places it mentions just right, and the action is quite good. For a detective novel, I thought it was not half bad.

Finally, there was the Imperial Cruise. This was written by James Bradley, the same author who wrote the book Flags of our Fathers about his father's and other's actions on Iowa Jima during the war. This book is about a cruise taken by Taft, the Secretary of State under President Theodore Roosevelt. It visited Pacific areas including Hawaii, Philippines, China and Japan. It spoke about some of the hidden politics that was going on. For example, President Roosevelt gave Japan the right to invade Korea and Formosa and make them part of their empire, the beginning of the imperialism that led to World War II. It was based on the assumption that because Japan had modernized so rapidly in the past half century, then they must be honorary Whites. There was a tremendous amount of racism in those days, especially seen by the incredibly brutal way that a rebellion was put down in the Philippines after the US conquered it (and had given assurances to the rebels who were our allies in our fight against the Spanish that we would grant them independence). It is a really shameful period in our history that we just don't hear about in our US history classes.

I hope you have a good week.

fr. Jude


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