Monday, December 31, 2012

Rome - Toronto - Buffalo - Baltimore

December 31, 2012 This is my second post for the day because I messed up and never posted the December 24th one until this morning. Christmas Day was nice and peaceful in Rome. The meals were incredible. The Italians go all out for their Christmas meals, and this year was no exception. The day after Christmas, Boxing Day, I travelled from Rome to Toronto. (It is called Boxing Day because in England the servants could not celebrate Christmas on December 25th because they were on duty. They got the next day off to open their Christmas boxes.) My brother Tom and sister-in-law Nadine picked me up at the Toronto airport and drove me to their home in Buffalo. Of course, it was snowing. We got about 12 inches that evening. We also all came down with the flu. It seems as if I am very healthy with all the travelling I am doing, but then when I slow down I get a cold or a flu. There must be some psychologial basis to that. The 30th I flew down to Baltimore to visit some good friends and I will fly back to Buffalo later this evening. (Thank God for frequent flyer tickets - the trip cost $5.) It has been good to get a week away before the beginning of our General Chapter. When I get back, we have one more week of Definitory, then a week off, and then it is time to go to Assisi. I finished a few books. The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan This book is about the founding of the national forests and the opposition that Theodore Roosevelt received from the robber barons who wanted to be able to exploit its resources without any regulation. He created a huge forest system, but as soon as his chosen successor, President Taft, takes over, the system is systematically looted. This comes to an end with when there is an apocalyptic forest fire in 1910. An area the size of Connecticut burns and many, many people are killed. The fire was fanned by hurricane force winds. Town after town were burned to the ground. The fire became the clarion call to America to protect its resources. After this time, the forest service which was bound to protect the forests is taken more seriously. Unfortunately, the message which is learned is also flawed, for they adopt a zero tolerance policy on forest fires (which is not healthy to the forest for it allows the underbrush to accumulate instead of being periodically burned out). Up Country by Nelson Demille This was a truly excellent book. The hero is a retired army crimes investigator who is called back to investigate a possible murder that occurred over 30 years ago in Vietnam. The clues come from a letter from a North Vietnamese soldier to his brother in which he describes the murder by a US captain of a US lieutenant. The investigator must go to Vietnam and try to find this witness and find out what is happening. A woman helps him in the investigation and one wonders what are her motives. Likewise, everyone around the investigator is hiding something. There is plenty of action. The sex scenes are handled discretely (at least in the version I listened to). The picture of how Vietnam now runs is enlightening. I truly recommend this particular book. The Fallen Man by Tony Hillerman This is another of the stories about a police force on the Navaho reservation. The hero of the story is Lt. Chi, and the elder wise man is Joe Leaphorn. A body is discovered upon a high sacred peak. It turns out to be a man who has been lost for the past ten years. There are questions of an inheritance of a ranch. In the meantime, there is a sub-story of a love affair between Lt. Chi and a lawyer, but there are complications for he is fully Navaho (which looks down upon ambition) and she is half Navaho but very ambitious for herself and for him. Furthermore, there is a cattle thief in the neighborhood. This series gives a great insight into the cultural difference between an anglo culture and a native American one. It is very enjoyable. Shalom fr. Juude

Rome - Assisi - Rome

December 24, 2012 Peace and Good, This past week we had our second last definitory for the term. We will have one more in January to take care of last minute details before the General Chapter which begins on January 19th. You can see the fatigue in the faces of all of the definitors. This has been a long haul, and we are reaching the end of the journey. I am always fascinated how we can discuss the situation of the friars in so many different lands. This time, from what I can remember, we discussed Chile, Columbia, Brazil, US, Poland, Italy, Belgium, Holland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, China, Philippines, Japan, Zambia and Ghana. That is from what I can remember. On Friday I took a train up to Assisi to visit a couple of friends and get some prayer time in before our chapter begins. Once it begins, there will be an awful lot of business to take care of. Assisi is quite a bit bolder than Rome and it has less sunlight because of a winter fog that covers it for days on end. I had an interesting incident while I was there. I was praying in the Basilica of St. Clare before the San Damiano Cross, the cross which spoke to St. Francis telling him to rebuild the church. When I finished, I walked out into the main body of the church and realized that the sisters had locked me in during the lunch break. Fortunately there were still a couple of sisters in the church to let me out. I came back to Rome yesterday evening, and I will be here for the Christmas celebrations. Then the day after Christmas I will fly out to Toronto to visit family and friends. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas. I have finished these books: Horror and C..p: 11 Short Stories by Joshua Scribner Joshua Scribner is a very creative science fiction, horror author. This is a series of eleven very short stories, each not more than a couple of pages long. Some of the themes covered are when a group of goblins torments a couple in their new home. A neighbor comes over and explains that the goblins are only hungry and since the toilet is blocked, they are starving for their usual fare (fill in the blank). In another, a man has a switch given to him by his psychiatrist to turn on and off his impulse to smoke. Little does he know that the switch is also connected to his wife’s impulse to murder him. One very short selection has a couple arguing whether they should tell others about a tsunami that is approaching. It turns out the couple are cats, and they abandon their family for higher ground. Each of the stories comes across as a short “Outer Limits” selection. His writing is always entertaining, if not a bit strange. Tudor Rose: The Story of the Queen who United a Kingdom and Birthed a Dynasty by Margaret Campbell Barnes This is the story of Elizabeth of York, the daughter of King Edward who dies early after a dissipated life. She is the niece of King Richard III who kills her two young brothers and then seems to want to marry her after his son and his own wife die. She eventually marries Henry VII who conquers the kingdom with a very poor claim for the monarchy other than conquest. Henry is the founder of the Tudor dynasty. He is not the warmest of men, more like a calculating machine. Yet Elizabeth remains a faithful wife. She is the mother of Arthur who died before he reigned and of Henry VIII. This is a fictional historical account which is quite good. The Eagle has Landed (Liam Devlin) by Jack Higgins I have come to like this author. He tells a very good tale. This is a story that takes place during the Second World War. Hitler has challenged the army intelligence to be as creative in their efforts as his special forces were when they rescued Mussolini from a mountain top prison. A plot is launched to capture or kill Churchill when he visits a small town in northern England along the coast. One of Germany’s few spies, an elderly Boer woman who is still angry at England for conquering her people in South Africa, is spying for the Nazis. An IRA agent is sent in to help her in the plans. The commandos arrive and all heck breaks out. The book is written with more sympathy, at times, for the Germans and the IRA agent than for the allies. It reminds us that not all Germans were Nazi monsters (although it makes clear that some were). Likewise, it reminds us that not all of the allied troops were knights in shining armor. It is a very good book. I have to apologize that this is late. I had written it on Christmas Eve, but I forgot to post it until today. Yesterday a couple of friends pointed out that there had been no posting since December 17th. I was so confused because I remember writing this. It was only last night that I put two and two together. Have a great New Years. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, December 17, 2012


December 17, 2012 Peace and Good, I hope that all is well with you. This has been a quiet week at home working over a laptop. I had about 130 pages (single spaced, for the most part) of documents to translate from Italian for our General Chapter. The work went better than I had expected. It is all done, and another friar, Peter Damian, our guardian, had the job of putting all the material in the right format. That has all been done as well. So now it looks as we are ready for the Chapter, at least in terms of documents. This week we will be meeting in our usual Definitory. We will certainly take care of last minute details for our meeting in mid-January in Assisi. There are some other details to take care of for various provinces, but not all that much on the agenda. However, all week has been scheduled, and it remarkable that material tends to expand to fill in the time available. I will be here in Rome for Christmas Day and then am flying back to Toronto on Boxing Day (December 26th). It is called boxing day because in Victorian Britain, the servants had to take care of the needs of their Lords on Christmas Day. They were given the next day, the 26th off, to open their Christmas boxes. I will spend the next week or so in Buffalo (with a quick two day trip down to Baltimore to visit friends and take care of some business). I am shocked and hurt like all of us over what happened in Connecticut. We just have to something about out gun laws. I understand hunting and even some weapons for defense, but our laws are way too lax. You don’t need an assault rifle to shoot a deer. I feel so bad for the families affected. Let’s keep them all in our prayers. I finished a few books: Typee by Herman Melville The story begins with the escape of two sailors from their whaling vessel while on a visit to the Marchese Islands. Their captain had been a tyrant, and they were not willing to continue to serve under him. The difficulty is that the Marchese chain was not entirely civilized. It had only recently been claimed by the French, who in the style of most colonizing groups proved almost if not more savage than the natives. Furthermore, there was a group of natives on the island who were famed as cannibals. The author finds himself among the Typee, that cannibal group, along with a companion who runs away with him, but then also abandons him in the Typee village. One hears about their customs (e.g. making of cloth from the fiber in plants, the making of their foods, etc.) One hears an honest account of their daily life and their religion. One has to remember that this is being written in the early 19th century, and it probably served as a travel adventure for readers of that time. He is quite negative to the way that some missionaries had destroyed the cultures of certain islands, especially attacking the hypocrisy of some of the missionaries in the Hawaiian Islands. He finally escapes his captors who turn out truly to have been cannibals. It is quite entertaining. Ultimate Punishment by Scott Turrow Scott Turrow, in addition to being an author, is also a lawyer. He served both as a federal assistant attorney and a defense attorney. In the 1990’s, he was asked to serve on a commission formed by Governor Ryan of Illinois to make sure that the death penalty of that state was more accurate and fair. In recent years, 17 of those who had been convicted and sentenced to the death penalty were later found to be innocent. By this, I do not mean that their sentences were reduced or there was some doubt. They were irrevocably found innocent because someone else was found guilty of the same crime. How could someone be put to death when there was the possibility that he or she was innocent? Turrow was not against the death penalty when he entered into the dialog. He recognizes the arguments for and against. Could the process be fine-tuned so that the death penalty could be fairer? He asks whether it is a deterrent (studies show that it is not). Is it cheaper than holding someone for life imprisonment (because of the court costs in a death penalty case, it is not). Does it help society to recognize the horrific nature of murder (it does as long as everyone executed is fully guilty). The commission eventually developed a whole series of recommendations but the legislature was afraid the enact them. Eventually Governor Ryan put a moratorium upon capital punishment in the state, pardoned a few prisoners who were clearly innocent, and commuted the rest of the capital cases to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The book is a good reflection on the subject. Turrow doesn’t argue one side or another. He just outlines the problems and some possible (but often politically impossible) solutions. Thirteen Diamonds (Lillian Morgan) by Alan Cook This is the second of the Lillian Morgan books that I have read. She is a retired math professor living in a complex for the elderly in North Carolina. One of the people with whom she is playing bridge drops dead after getting a perfect hand, thirteen diamonds. She investigates the death with the idea that she believes that it was a murder. The man who died was allergic to shell fish, and it was someone included in a tuna casserole that was served just before that hand was dealt. The dialog is good and the action is both believable and funny. I am not sure that the author has the thoughts and actions of older folk down perfectly, but he does a creditable job. This was just a fun read. I hope your last week before Christmas is peaceful. Shalom Fr. Jude

Monday, December 10, 2012


December 10, 2012 Peace and Good, I hope you are all well. I have been in Rome for the past week. We are getting ready for our General Chapter, and I have been asked to translate some of the documents for that chapter. This includes the Minister General’s report and the new proposals for the next six years. (We call this the Instrumentum Laboris, or the “working document”). I was at the meetings that put together these documents, so I know a lot of the reasons why things were said the way they were. There is just over 100 pages to translate. So far it is going well. I have finished one entire document and am about a third of the way through the second one. I should finish everything by this Saturday, which is very good because the next week we have a General Definitory all week long. Furthermore, the General Secretary was hoping to e mail these documents out to all the friars who will be present at Chapter sometime before Christmas, and my translation will be ready in plenty of time. We have been celebrating our novena for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception this past week. Every evening we have Mass and a different cardinal is invited each day. I was one of the main concelebrants two of the evenings. This is the first time that I concelebrated with a cardinal. It has been very, very cold in Rome these past week. It is always a bit damp, but it has been bitterly cold also (at least bitterly cold by Roman standards – the Minnesota folks would consider this to be a balmy Spring day). I finished a few books: A Most Wanted Man by John le Carre I listened to this book in an abridged form. It was one of those books that was so good that I wish I had the unabridged version. It is about a young man from Chechnya who had been arrested by the Russians, the Turks and even the Swedes. He is seeking asylum in Germany. He also turns out to be the heir of a considerable fortune left him by his Russian father (who had conceived him by raping his Chechen mother). Issa, the young man, seems out to be an absolute innocent. He is helped by a German asylum lawyer and the banker who cared for his father’s fortune. The secret services of Germany, Great Britain and the US all get involved. One ends up wondering who is telling the truth and where moral good and evil actually lie. It is very, very good. The Americans: The Colonial Experience by Daniel Boorstein This is a series of essays on the various colonies and what made each tick. We hear about the Puritans of New England. They were not all that concerned with doctrinal purity as much as unity in government. There were the Quakers of Pennsylvania who were so concerned with doctrinal purity (which included pacifism) that they did not foresee protection against the Indians for their settlers in more dangerous areas. Then there were the planters of Virginia who founded an aristocracy which controlled the government of the colony. Borstein then passes on to culture. He speaks of how culture developed differently in America than it had in Europe. It was not bound by history and tradition. The book continues with all sorts of issues such as the colonial attitude toward literature, the press, the military, etc. The book is well documented and helps you to understand what our country was like before our revolution. It is not a difficult read, and it is insightful. One comes to realize how much of a miracle it was that the thirteen separate colonies with their separate cultures, religions, etc. were able to gel as one nation. Widows by Ed McBain This is another of Ed McBain’s detective novels. He presents some detectives in a precinct and usually deals with two crimes which they must solve. In this case, a girl friend, a wife and a former wife along with a man and his dog are all gunned down by a mysterious killer. The other case is the father of one of the detectives is murdered in his shop by a couple of drug addicts. The novels are a good read, but they are a bit confusing when you first start reading his worked because he shifts from one character and story to another without any notice. Eventually you get used to it and they are an entertaining read. Hope you have a good week. Shalom Fr. Jude

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rome - Geneva - Rome

November 29, 2012 Peace and Good, This posting is a bit late this week because I had to leave on Monday to fly to Geneva at a last minute’s notice to take care of some business up there with Franciscans International, the NGO lobbying organization sponsored by the Franciscans at the UN. I flew back last evening after the meetings had concluded. The weather in Geneva this time of year is not great. It rained from the moment the plane touched down until it was time to go to the airport to return. I cannot believe how expensive everything is up there. It is sometimes double the prices down here in Rome, and Rome is already at least 50% more than in the States. This past week was spent trying to get ahead with articles, web scriptural reflections, etc. I have managed to get into a position where I am several months ahead with the articles and have finished the reflections until after the New Year, so I am in good shape. Tomorrow I will begin translating some important documents for the General Chapter. We usually have another translator for documents, but these are documents produced by the Minister General and the General Definitory, and I was present when they were written. I know what we were trying to say, so it was thought that it would be best for me to do these particular documents. There will be about 150 pages of them, so I will quite busy with them for the next ten days or so. I have also been hosting some friars who came through from our province, including our minister provincial, fr. James. We all went out for pizza Thanksgiving evening (and no, they didn’t have turkey pizza anywhere). I have finished a few books: David King Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi Occupied Paris This was a very interesting book about a mass murderer in the city of Paris during the Nazi occupation. It seems as if the man involved, a doctor, Dr. Maurice Petoit, convinced people that he could transport them to safety to the unoccupied part of France and eventually to Argentina. He offered these services to those who were desperate to escape: Jews, criminals, just normal people. He killed people in one of his properties and was only caught when the smell coming out of the building tipped people and eventually the police to the fact that he was burning bodies. There is no clear idea of how many people were actually killed. It might have been more than one hundred. The author speaks about the situation in Paris, the life of the doctor, and the eventual trial and death of the murderer. The irony was that the Nazis were killing hundreds and thousands of French in their death camps at the exact same time. The investigation into the deaths actually began during the occupation period, and only ended after the liberation. It was complicated by the fact that many of the people involved in the investigation were removed from their responsibilities because they were being accused of collaboration with the Nazis. This was a good book, although it is messy and troubling. Yalta: The Price of Peace by SM Plokhy This conference was one of the most infamous of gatherings of the leaders of the World War II allies. It resulted in the surrender of most of Eastern Europe to the communists for most of the rest of the century. This book surveys what really happened at that encounter. The book is well documented and not a difficult read. It deals with the motivations of Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt. It deals with many of the accusations that have been put forward concerning that meeting. It asks what could have been done to save Poland when it was already occupied by Soviet forces. The only real alternative would have been a new war when most of the world was incredibly exhausted from the war that was not yet over. I like the realistic tone the book takes. Stalin comes across as a shrewd manipulator of the other two main negotiators. One sees how much he controlled the government and army of his country. His underlings did not dare propose anything to the allies without first passing it by him. I would definitory recommend this book for anyone interested in World War II and Cold War history. Barcelona Betrayal by Steve Kenning This is a detective novel that takes place in Barcelona. The heroes of the story are a couple of soon to be married detectives. They are both beautiful and highly intelligent. All the other police in the story come across as incompetent or corrupt or both. The story dabbles with idea of multiple personalities, but the psychological information seems to be mistaken and confused. It is a good presentation of the environs of Barcelona, but the heroes come across as two dimensional and I wouldn’t recommend this particular author. Hope you have a good week. Shalom Fr. Jude

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


November 20, 2012 Peace and Good, This week has been glorious. I have been home, sleeping in the same bed for more than a few days. It is great to get back to a routine and not have to improvise every day depending on where one is and what one is expected to do. This past week I have working up to catch up on some projects and get ahead. Next week I will be given an extensive number of pages to translate from Italian to English for the General Chapter. I will be doing this translation because I was present at the meeting in which this material was developed so I know the nuances of the phrases used. I think it will be around 150 pages in all. Most of it is rather straight forward, but it is still a lot of work to do. So I have been writing my articles for the Messenger of St. Anthony in Padua. I am up to date up to the August edition. I finished some articles for the Crusader Magazine in England. I sent them the articles up to the February edition. Today I finished off the daily reflections up to Christmas eve. We have had some visitors from my province as well. One of the friars came in from England to refresh his Italian for a month, and another came in to attend a workshop here in Rome. It is good to have them around. Our provincial, fr. James, is arriving this evening. We’ll have a good sized group for Thanksgiving. We have been having fall weather. Some days are quite nice, while others are quite rainy. It is cool, not yet cold. The Tiber River has been very, very high due to rains they received in the north of Italy. Hope you have a good holiday. I have finished these books: A World on Fire by Amanda Forman This is a history of the relationship between the United States (northern and southern states) during the civil war and Great Britain. It was not an easy relationship. Great Britain had its reasons to be angry at the US after the way that it had treated Great Britain during various wars of its own (e.g. a rebellion in Canada, the Crimean War, etc.). Ironically, some of the things about which the north complained most bitterly were exactly things that the US had done to Great Britain. Shortly after the beginning of the rebellion, Great Britain declared its neutrality and more or less stuck to this commitment throughout the war. One of the things that truly complicated this relationship was the fact that Seward was our secretary of state. He was a very political man, and he used the opposition card to rally support for his and Lincoln’s policies. He would rail against Great Britain, even threatening to go to war against it in order to avoid having to respond to problems that the administration did not want to face. There were also a large number of volunteers and also men who were drafted (legally and illegally) into the armies of the north and the south during the war. The book tells the stories of many of them. The book is really an excellent, honest portrayal of a complicated issue. The Secret Agent: a Simple Tale by Joseph Conrad I love Conrad’s writing. The other books that I have read of his had to do with far off places (Africa, the South Seas). This one takes place in England. An agent of an imperial power is told to place a bomb in Greenwich in order to shake the confidence of the English people. The agent gives the bomb to his brother in law who is mentally slow, and it blows up. The investigation demonstrates the pettiness of the British police force. The spy himself is a pitiful character living a pitiful life. There is none of the heroics and action of a Bourne episode. It sounds a lot more like a group of moderately talented people pretending to be something they clearly are not. There is deception by people who claim to be working for the betterment of humanity (the agent who treats his wife with little or no regard, even after he is responsible for the death of her brother, the revolutionary who steals the wife’s money and sends her off to her suicide, etc.) One is left with a sense of sadness at how people act and live. Chopin: the Man and his Music by James Huneker This was one of the free books that I received from Kindle. It gives a short biography of Chopin, and then goes on at length considering the various aspects of his music. For me, the biography was the most important point, although if someone was really into music, I am sure the second part of the book would be more interesting. The biography, unfortunately, was less informative than I would have liked. This Polish musician lived a short but interesting life, dying in what he considered to be exile in Paris. God bless and Shalom Fr. Jude

Monday, November 12, 2012


November 12, 2012 Peace and Good, I have been in Rome all week for our General Definitory meeting. Most of the business involved the preparations for our General Chapter which will be meeting in Assisi from mid-January through mid-February. There will be representatives from the over 80 jurisdictions of the order from over 60 countries around the world. The chapter will decide the course that our order will take for the next six years. This is an ordinary chapter. Every once in a while, there is an extraordinary chapter to deal with particular problems or topics that are too large to deal with at the ordinary chapter. The ordinary chapter is called every six years to elect the leadership team for the order for that six year period and to discuss other topics of importance for the whole order. The big topic over these next years is the rewriting of the constitutions of our order. Our present constitutions were written right after the Second Vatican Council. At that time, most of the order was found in Europe and North America. Right now that is changing. The vocations in the older parts of our order are way down while those in the south and east are exploding. Furthermore, the Vatican has come out with many new documents on religious life since the Vatican Council. It would be good to take those into account in our constitutions. This work began four years ago, and will continue for the next four or five years. Another big topic which we have to address is how to finance our missions where there are many vocations. We need to find a more equitable way of sharing our resources, both financial and personnel. I am going to be in Rome most of the time for the next couple of months as we continue our preparations for the General Chapter. My reading this week has included: The Fox by Arlene Radasky This book is set in England and Scotland in two eras, during the days shortly after the invasion of the Romans and in the modern era. It speaks extensively about the druids and their religion. The hero of the story serves as a seer and folk medicine doctor. The other modern hero is an archaeologist who is able to find the ruins that deal with her because she is channeling her spirit. The older part of the story takes place around 80 AD when the Scotts are preparing to do combat with the Romans who are invading their territory. It is interesting to hear the story from the viewpoint of those who lost the battle. The author is clearly fascinated with the religion of those days. I think she glorifies it a bit too much, but it is good to hear what the people of those days believed and how they worshipped their gods. It was a good book with some good insights. Marker by Robin Cooke Cooke, I believe, is a doctor, and he really hates the health insurance industry. This is the second book of his that I have read where the insurance companies plot to kill people who cut into their profit. The plot is well developed, and I found it interesting. Even though you know from the start who the killer is, it is nevertheless exciting for the plot twists and turns. The characters are all a bit flawed, something of them terribly so. The ending was a bit forced, almost as if he realized he had to tie up all the loose ends in the last ten pages. Overall, though, it was a good read. The Devil’s Banker by Christopher Reich This is a book on CD that I listened to in an abridged form. Even though it was abridged, it was done quite well. It is about an agent for the US government who is an accountant and whose task it is to investigate the money used by terrorists. He uncovers a plot to kill the president and the king of Saudi Arabia. The constant theme of the book is “follow the money.” There is quite a bit of spy action, with the story unwinding in Pakistan, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the US. There is even a tame love story thrown in. I would say that it was worth reading. Saint Athanasius: The Father of Orthodoxy by F.A. Forbes This is a short biography of one of the great defenders of orthodoxy in Christianity. He especially opposed the errors of the Arians. The Arians were named after a certain Arius who taught that Jesus was not equal to the Father, but rather was created in time and therefore was a creature. The Nicean Creed was developed to fight this heresy (as one can hear when we profess that Jesus was consubstantial with the Father). Athanasius was the patriarch of Alexandria in Egypt, one of the great early Christian sees. He was repeatedly persecuted for holding on to the faith, often in collusion with the emperor of the Roman Empire (for the Arians were very influential with the emperors). Yet, for all that he suffered and fought, he remained faithful and the orthodox position eventually gained sway in the Roman Empire. God bless and Shalom Fr. Jude

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mishawaka, IN - Ellicott City, MD

October 29, 2012 Peace and Good, This past week I spend in Mishawaka, IN. This is where our novitiate is located. Novitiate is a year of prayer and discernment before a man takes his vows to become a friar. We have one central novitiate in Mishawaka, which is just down the road from South Bend, IN. There are two novices from St. Anthony Province, three from St. Joseph Cupertino Province in California, one from Our Lady of Consolation Province in the midwest, two from Our Lady, Help of Christians Delegation in Australia, and one from Blessed Agnellus of Pisa Delegation in Great Britain/Ireland. There were also a number of novices and postulants from the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist whose mother house is across the street from our novitiate. I gave a workshop on the Gospels and the Psalms. I had about two and a half hours of class each morning from Monday to Friday. The afternoons gave me the opportunity to catch up on a couple of projects which were overdue. I drove back to Ellicott City on Friday and Saturday. Today I was supposed to fly back to Rome, but my flight was cancelled because of the hurricane. I am rebooked for Thursday evening. This gives me a couple of days to rest up a bit and to write some articles for the two magazines for which I write. These are a few of the books that I have finished: The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War by David Halberstam This is a good history both of the Korean War and of the events which led up to the war. It presents many of the characters involved in the important decisions just before the war (e.g. those involved in the fall of China, in the decision to allow the army to wither to almost nothing right after the end of World War II, the character of Truman, McArthur, Mao, Chiang, etc.). The response to the war is clouded by the China lobby, a group of conservative politicians who back Taiwan, no matter what that would cost to the nation. We hear about MacArthur’s successes (especially the landing at Incheon which turned the war around in an instant) and his failures (his incredible blind pride, his arrogance, his disobedience to civil authorities including the President). We hear about the tendency of the Americans to misjudge the Chinese once they enter the country, and how it was only General Ridgeway that the Americans learned to use their strengths (especially modern military hardware) against the enormous numbers of Chinese who were there. We hear of how Truman fires McCarthy and what the political consequences were, and how Truman realized that while he would be misjudged at first, history would judge him having done the right thing (which is exactly what happened). The war ended in a terrible stalemate that was able to be resolved only when Stalin died (for Stalin was quite happy to have the Chinese and Americans killing each other, thus leaving him to do what he wanted). This is an excellent book, well researched both at a political/military level and at a human level. Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas This is an interesting book about a writer who decides to tell the story of a Felange author who was almost killed during the Spanish Civil War. He was part of a group of rightest prisoners who were shot. He somehow avoided being shot and escaped. He eventually became part of the Franco government. As the writer investigates the story and the man’s history, he begins writing his book. He is dissatisfied with the final product, until he meets a man who was part of the leftist forces who were in that village when the execution took place. The book investigates questions of heroism and duty. It asks for the sense of all the killing. It bemoans the fact that those who gave so much for their cause would later be forgotten and sent out to pasture. It is a really fine book, a translation from Spanish. Lisbon: War in the shadows of the city of light: 1939-1945 by Niel Lockery During World War II, the dictator Salazar ruled Portugal with an iron fist but managed to keep it out of the war. This was quite a deed, for Spain, which all but surrounded Portugal, was very favorable to the forces of Germany and Italy and in fact had organized plans to invade Portugal. England had had a mutual defense treaty that dated back to the 1300’s, and she called upon that bond to keep dragging Portugal back to the middle. This is not to say that Portugal had nothing to do with either side. She was one of the world’s greatest sources for wolfram, which we call tungsten. This mineral was essential for the production of hardened steel which was used in armor and armor piercing shells. Portugal made a fortune selling this mineral both to Germany and England. Much of the money paid for the wolfram obtained by Germany was paid for in gold, much of which had been pillaged from invaded countries and from individuals (including the melted down gold teeth of Jewish victims of the holocaust). There is also the question of the allied use of the Azores Islands. They lie one third of the way across the Atlantic, and produced an excellent base for defense against submarine warfare. England was able to call upon its treaty to gain access to a base on the islands, remarkably without having Portugal break relations with Germany. There is quite a bit of information about the allies attempt to limit Portugal’s commerce with the axis powers. There is also quite a bit of information about the spies and counter-spies who lived and worked in Lisbon during the war. There is also quite a bit of information about all of the refugees who were seeking to flee from Europe through Portugal. This book is an excellent treatment of the topic. Keep safe. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, October 22, 2012

Doylestown, PA - Ellicott City, MD - Mishawaka, IN

October 22, 2012 Peace and Good, This past week I finished my series of five retreats to the friars of Immaculate Conception and St. Anthony Province in the east of the United States. All of the retreats went very well and I was very pleased with them. The last retreat was in a retreat house in Doylestown, PA. This is a shrine in honor of Our Lady of Czestochowa. The monks who run the shrine are the Paulist Order from Poland. The food all week was definitely Polish (pierogi, pigs in the blanket, cabbage, etc.). The welcome from the staff was also typically Polish, very warm are sincere. I traveled out to our novitiate in Mishawaka this past Saturday and Sunday (breaking up the trip a bit so that I would not overdo it). I have begun a workshop for our novices and for the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist novices and postulants (whose motherhouse is next door). I have given a retreat to those sisters, and I have found them wonderful women of prayer and joy. The workshop is upon the Gospels and the Psalms. St. Francis felt that the Franciscan life was one simply of living the Gospel in our own days. Furthermore, we friars and sisters pray the psalms every day in our Divine Office, and yet at times we do not understand the symbolism because they were written over two thousand years ago in a very different language. I have finished a few books: The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner This is the story of an NPR reporter who travels around the world looking for the secret of happiness, especially in certain countries which traditionally (and measurably) have a high quota of happiness. His travels take him to Netherland, Switzerland, Bhutan (which instead of measuring income in a gross national product, they measure happiness is a gross national happiness), Quatar, Iceland, etc. It is interesting that the happiest people are not necessarily in the richest countries, or the most democratic. The happiness of the people in these various countries varies, and one has to ask how much true happiness in a country like Qatar where there is an extravagant luxury bought by an incredible treasure of natural gas. He also travels to the unhappiest country on the list: Moldova. I had to have a laugh reading that section, because that country is less than 10 miles from where I taught when I was offering courses in Romania. It used to be part of Romania until Stalin cut it off and incorporated it into the Soviet Union during the War. So much of his description reminds me of the early days of my work there, in the early 90’s. The only problem is that Romania has moved on, and Moldova is caught in a time trap. The author then goes to England to visit the town of Slough which has a reputation for being depressed. The BBC had an experiment there to see if 5 happiness experts could work with 50 members of the community to create a critical mass of happiness. The people involved in the experiment turned out to be happier, but it didn’t really affect the town all that much. He also travelled to India which one can love and hate at the very same time. He speaks of how happiness does not depend on how much one has or more external things. It largely depends upon relationships, upon having enough but not too much, upon tolerance, upon trust. He also asks the question proposed by a wise easterner: is happiness the most important thing or is love the most important thing. Shaken by J.A. Konrath This is a story told at three time levels, over 20 years ago, three years ago and the present. The present is especially important because the investigator who is the hero of the story is tied up and about to be tortured by the mass murderer whom she has been pursuing since the earliest period in the story. The technique of telling the story at all three levels at the same time is not all that difficult to follow. On kindle, in fact, they have an alternate version of the story told in the proper order in case the former is too difficult or confusing for one. It is a messy story with a lot of physical violence. It is, after all, the story of a mass murderer who tortures his victims. I would not recommend this book for everyone, but it was worth reading. Six Days of War by Michael Oren This is the story of the war between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Syria in 1967. The Russians are seen to have instigated this particular war by spreading untrue rumors that Israel was about the attack Syria. The reason seems to have been to isolate the US as the ally of Israel. The war ended with a tremendous defeat of Russia’s allies, the Arab states. Israel pre-empted the war and attacked on the morning of June 5th, destroying almost all of the Egyptian air force. She then invaded the Sinai. When Jordan cooperated with Egypt, even though it had been warned not to by Israel, it was the next target. Finally, when the northern Israelites could no longer stand the constant bombardment from Syria upon their settlements, Israel attacked the Golan Heights. The war only lasted six days, but it was an incredible victory for Israel. The victory was almost too great, for Russia threatened to attack Israel if it did not accept a cease fire. God bless and Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ellicott City - Wappingers Falls - Chicopee

October 15, 2012 The Memorial of St. Theresa of Avila Peace and Good, This past week I was preaching a retreat to a group of our friars at a retreat house near Brewster, NY. It is run by the OFM friars and they were most welcoming. There were 40 friars on the retreat and it went very well. This is the fourth in a series of five retreats for the two eastern provinces to help them prepare for their union in 2014. I chose a number of instances in the Bible where people faced moments of transition. A lot of the older friars are especially grateful because they did not have a great preparation in Sacred Scripture when they were in theology school. By the time that I did my studies, they had changed the program extensively and I had a very good preparation. I am also talking about what is going on in the order throughout the world. Every few months there is a magazine that is mailed to all the friars about these things, but most of the friars feel overwhelmed by all the documents they are now receiving and which they are expected to read. It is a whole different thing for someone who is on the inside to explain what is happening. When the retreat ended on Friday, I drove down to Chicopee, MA where we have a rather large friary. I stayed in the house for the older friars, so it was nice and quiet. On Saturday morning I visited the Missionary Franciscan Sisters at their convent in Holyoke. I celebrated Mass for them and had breakfast with them. It was great catching up with them. There are sisters from Italy, Korea, Zambia and Romania - a true international community. I then went out and visited a few of our friars who are now in nursing homes. There is fr. Marion who used to be our provincial. He cannot walk any more due to neuropathy and he is suffering from a bit of dimentia. I visited fr. Pascal who is very ill with cancer (although you would never know it given his joyous temperament and his crushing handshake). Then I drove down to Enfield, CT to visit fr. Joseph Grzybowski. He was one of two brothers in the order. His brother Robert passed away a few years ago. (In fact, fr. Joe was anointing him, and Robert took his last breath as they reached the Amen of the ritual.) He, too, is suffering from neuropathy. Today I head down to Doylestown, Pa for the last of this series of retreats. These are some books that I have finished: Cold Vengeance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child This is another of the Agent Pendergast novels by this pair of authors. He is a clever, sophisticated FBI special agent from New Orleans with an interesting pedigree (mental illness runs in his family) who must battle against black forces which are difficult to first of all come to know and then defeat. Yet, he seems to have a limitless source of innovation. The novels in this series that I have read so far all have him on leave from his job. I am beginning to wonder whether he ever actually shows up at the office. Yet, once one gets into the mind set of these novels, they are quite entertaining. In this one he must battle a plot launched by ex-Nazi’s and their successors. There is also a quest for Pendergast’s wife whom he had presumed dead after a lion attack many years before in Africa. I like the style, it is very eccentric to say the least. God is an Englishman by R. Delderfield The book is about the founder of a carriage company during the middle of the 19th century. It is very English in tone, and actually an enjoyable read. A soldier who comes across a fortune while fighting Britain’s wars in the Crimea and India uses it to set up a business. He marries the feisty daughter of a ruthless industrialist. She only gradually comes to appreciate the value of her husband’s work (her judgment earlier being clouded by her experience at home growing up). Furthermore, her husband only slowly learns how to treat her with responsibility and not as a mindless play thing to respond to his sexual needs. A number of incidents occur which cause the husband to trust and respect his wife more and more, until when he is sidelined by a terrible accident, she takes over his complicated business. There is a sub-theme throughout the book upon the treatment of women in 19th century England. This is almost a paean to capitalism which made England great. Yet, there is another sub-theme of treating one’s employees justly, as the hero of this story does. Not a bad book, but it is a bit wordy here and there. St. Francis of Assisi by G.K. Chesterton This is an outline of the life and times of St. Francis of Assisi, but seen through the optics of Chesterton. The style is very British from the beginning of the 20th century. It is flowery and polemic. While all the basic details are there, I found that I just did not enjoy the presentation. One just has to remember that much of it is polemics addressed at the 19th century tendency toward secularism in England.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chicago - Assisi - Rome - Ellicott City

October 7, 2012 Peace and Good, It has been another busy week since I last posted the blog. We finished out meetings in Chicago on Wednesday the 27th of September, and then on the 28th we took a field trip to Milwaukee. The friars have a beautiful basicila there: St. Josaphat. We received it at the beginning of the 20th century. The previous pastor had run up a huge debt and the church was going to go bankrupt. The friars were able to pool all the funds at their disposition and pay off the debt in a couple of years. The church is a magnificent example of a certain type of architecture and decoration. It is often used for symphanies because it is so beautiful. The next day most of us flew out. A good number headed back to Rome, while others travelled in the States. One of the assistants headed down to Mexico on his way to Chile. I flew to Rome and took the train right up to Assisi. I was there until the afternoon of the 4th attending a series of long and difficult meetings. One day the board I am on met with the Ministers General of all of the branches of the Franciscan Order. They are a very nice group of men and women. I was quite impressed at their spirit. On the 4th, I concelebrated at the solemn Mass in the upper basilica of St. Francis for the feast of St. Francis. Each year a different section of Italy brings the olive oil that will be used to light the lamp at the tomb of St. Francis, and this time it was a province from the northeast of Italy, Venezia Julia and Fruili. That afternoon I headed back to Rome to catch a flight back to the States on Friday. I am at Ellicott City until tomorrow morning when I head out to a retreat house in upper New York State to preach a retreat to the friars. Here is the reading I finished this week: Medicus: A Novel of the Roman Empire by Ruth Downie This is the story of a doctor in the Roman Empire who has been assigned to service in Britain at the end of the beginning of the reign of Hadrian. He is suffering from economic difficulties (paying the debts of his father). He ends up with a young woman who he buys as a slave to rescue her from her brutal owner. Without wanting to, he also ends up being an amateur investigator of the murder of two women who work in one of the local brothels. There are a number of twists and turns. One gets a good sense of how the Roman occupying army would act in a conquered country. One also gets a sense of how slaves were treated. The book deals with serious topics, but is also very funny. The Final Storm by Jeff Shaara The Shaara’s, father and son, have made a bit of a cottage industry of writing fictional historical works on warfare. The father wrote a famous book on the Civil War, The Killer Angels. This book is part of a series written by the son on the Second World War. Most of the series is about the war in Europe. This book is an exception for it speaks about the end of the Second World War, especially the invasion of Okinowa. The normal pattern is to write chapters from different points of view, going from the ground soldier to the general to the leaders of the countries. This particular volume is a little bit weak in this format because it is mostly the story of one soldier told in all of its blood and gore. When Okinawa is finally captured, the book shifts to the story of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. It is almost as if it is two separate books. This book is not for everyone, and probably not the best product of the Shaara’a. The Demon of Walker’s Woods by Dan Dillard This is an odd little story about a group of kids who are frightened by a strange old woman who lives in their neighborhood. It is not at all clear until the end whether their imagination is running wild or whether they have intuited something that is real. It is quite good, if a bit strange. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, September 28, 2012

Chicago - Carey - Chicago - Rome

September 28, 2012 Peace and Good, I am sorry that I am so late this week in writing this blog, but it has been incredibly busy, as you will soon see. I had flown over from Rome to Chicago a two weeks ago today. Then on Sunday the rest of the General Definitory arrived from Rome. I am the only native English speaker, so I was responsible for coordinating arrangements with the local friars. We stayed first of all with our friars in the friary on Kenmore Avenue. This is a few blocks away from Loyolla. They were incredible. They responded to our every need, often before we even asked them. Our definitory met throughout the week, preparing material for our General Chapter in January. We also took an afternoon off to visit Chicago. There was a two hour bus tour with an Italian translater to explain the history and architecture of the city. The friars then took a boat ride on the river, and we ate supper on the pier. On Saturday we drove down to Carey, Ohio. Along the way we stopped at one of our parishes in Angola, Indiana where we had lunch. That evening we had a dinner celebrating the 100th anniversary of the friars' presence at the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation. The next day at noon we had a solemn Mass celebrated by our Minister General. The church was packed. Then at 2:30 we had devotions at which I preached. On Monday we headed back to the Chicago area. We stopped at our novitiate on the way to have lunch and meet with the novices. They are located at Misshawaka which is right near Notre Dame University. We arrived at Marytown in Libertyville, IL, later that day. This is in the north Chicago area. Tursday and Wednesday we met with the provincials, custodes and delegates of North America and Great Britain/Ireland. Then Thursday we took a trip to Milwaukee to see our Basilica of St. Josaphat (which is magnificent) and to have a brewery tour and then go to a German restaurant for supper. Today I finished off our meetings with the provincials. Now I am heading back to Italy for a week. I have a series of meetings in Assisi. I will be heading back next Friday. These are the books I have finished: Last Seen in Massilia by Steven Saylor This is another one of those detective novels set in the times of Julius Caesar. The hero of the book if a man named Gordianus the Finder. He uses his investigative skills to discover the murderer of a young woman in a city being besieged by the troops of Caesar. Marsailles up to that point had been a free city founded by the Greeks. When Caesar passed by on his way to Spain to fight the troops of Pompey, they refused him entrance. He therefore put the city under siege. Gordianus and his son-in-law find a way to get into the city to seek his son who has disappeared. There is a sub-theme of fathers and children and the pain that this relationship can cause. As always, Saylor is brilliant in his portrayal of both the times and the people involved. The Pope’s Daughter: The Extraordinary Life of Felice della Rovere by Caroline Murphy This is the story of the daughter of Pope Julius II. Although he recognized his daughter, Julius did not flaunt his relationship as his predecessor did (the Borgia family). She became a power in her own name. The story comes from what documents have been passed down, and it often has to be constructed from receipts and legers. She really was a remarkable person, heading the Orsini family in Rome. She lived in Rome during the days when the city was conquered by the king of Spain and his army of disgruntled Spanish and German (many of whom were Lutheran and hated the Roman Catholic Church). Later in her life, she spend most of her energy and resources to further the cause of her children. This is a fascinating insight into the life of a woman during the Renaissance. Lincoln and His Admirals by Craig Symonds We tend to talk about Lincoln’s generals, but we have also to remember the importance of his navy in establishing a blockade outside of the cities of the South and in bombarding cities along the Mississippi and other rivers. The books deals with the abolition question because so many black slaves sought refuge with the naval forces who then established free colonies along the coast for them. It also deals with the same difficulties that Lincoln faced with generals: that some of them were political hacks and blatantly incompetent, while others were just not all that good at what they were doing. Over the years, Lincoln was able to find a core of admirals upon whom he could trust. There was also the tremendous tension within Lincoln’s own cabinet, especially between the secretary of the Navy Welles and the secretary of commerce Chase. That erupted in the question of who was permitted to carry contraband goods to and from the rebelling states, e.g. the bales of cotton that were piled up along the rivers, etc. The book is well researched and well written. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rome - Chicago

September 17, 2012 Peace and Good, I have been in Rome all throughout this past week for a workshop for the new provincials and new secretaries of the various jurisdictions of our order. This is always a great event because we get to see how international our order is. There were representatives from Italy, Romania, Argentina, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, India, Korea, Japan and Indonesia. These are all first term provincials, and the workshop was instituted to help them fulfill their responsibilities. I have already had contacts with some of them and I was able to get together with a few of them to deal with situations in their provinces. One of the nice elements of this was that we had supper at our house in the Vatican. Our friars are the confessors on one side of the Basilica of St. Peter’s and they live just inside the gate on the left side of the Basilica, just beyond the Swiss guard are standing. We ate supper out on the terrazzo overlooking the gardens of the Vatican. When we friars pass through the gates, we are actually saluted by the Swiss guard. On Friday I flew out to Chicago for our meetings the next couple of weeks. I was lucky to make my connection in London because there was only about 2 ¼ hour turnover, and the plane was 1 ½ hour late leaving Rome. Fortunately, there were no problems in getting through security (which there sometimes are). The rest of the general curia arrived yesterday in Chicago. I had come a couple of days early to get the arrangements ready for the rest of them. This morning we began a series of meetings that will continue all through this week and into next week. I have finished a few books: Forever Odd by Dean Koontz This has to be one of my favorite characters: Odd Thomas. This is his actual name, either because of a mistake made by a clerk when he was born or the malicious intent of a deeply disturbed mother. Odd is a fast fry cook in a diner who also sees ghosts and becomes involved in their travails. One of these ghosts, by the way, is Elvis. In this volume he seeks to save Danny, a young man subject to brittle bone disease, who has been kidnapped by a maniac. Odd is different, but incredibly respectful to elders, humble, gentle, and kind. Toward the end of the book he reflects upon why there is so much pain and evil in the universe and how this all can be healed. I heartily recommend the whole series. Bonnie Prince Charlie: a Tale of Fontenoy and Culloden by G.A. Henty This is another of Henty’s historical novels that are intended to show heroism for the young men of Britain during the period in which they were written. This one takes place in Scotland during the last moments of the Scottish independence movement during the 18th century and in France where many of the exiled Scots fought in the army of the king of France. There are the usual twists and turns. The author manages to show the heroism of the Stuart backers without rejecting one’s duty to be faithful to the Hanoverian (George I, II and III) dynasty. He also brings across the tragedy of Scotland’s attachment to a lost cause and the consequences of such horrendous decisions. The Whiskey Rebellion: Frontier Epilogue to the American Revolution by Thomas Slaughter During the presidency of George Washington, there was a bit of a rebellion of westerners (which at that time meant western Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, etc.) against the federal government. The cause was an excise tax imposed upon whiskey. It was difficult to transport grain over the mountains to the east, and life on the western frontier was rough. Therefore, farmers would make whiskey out of their excess grain. When the federal government imposed a tax upon that whiskey, many farmers in western Pennsylvania rose in arms. This book explains why there were already tensions between the eastern establishment and western settlers. The westerners were barely surviving. They felt that the government was not helping them establish a transport system (e.g. open passage on the Mississippi). Now, it was taking what little currency they had (for much of the business of the frontier was done with barter). Furthermore, there was agitation by the Spanish and English in the hope of cutting off a bit of the land between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi. The rebellion itself was crushed quickly. Washington assigned control of a militia army to Richard Henry Lee (of the Robert E Lee family), and by the time that the army arrived in Western Pennsylvania, it was all over. Many farmers and agitators were arrested, but very few were charged. Only two of those charged were convicted, and they were pardoned by Washington. The tensions between the big eastern establishment and the small farmers and businessmen continued to fester, coming to the fore with the election of Jefferson, and even more Jackson. I hope you have a good week. Shalom Fr. Jude

Monday, September 10, 2012


September 10, 2012 Peace and Good, I hope you are all well. I am been in Rome since this last Monday, having returned from our pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This has been a week for catching up on projects. Today I actually feel as if I am caught up, although that never really lasts. These past couple of days I was going over the Lectors’ Workbook for 2013. This is a project that I have been doing for over ten years. Now it is only a question of making a few corrections and some changes that I might have developed from my reading. I also had another teleconference with members of the board of directors of Franciscans International. It is incredible that we can have a conference with people from Canada, the US, Switzerland, Italy and Germany. We are getting ready for our semi-annual meeting which will be held in Assisi in the days immediately preceding St. Francis Day. We will be meeting with the Generals of all of the Franciscan Orders, so this is an important meeting for the future of the organization. These past couple of days we have been receiving guests from various provinces all over the world. Every year or so we have a workshop for new provincials to teach them how to do certain things that their job requires. The official title is something like “Workshop for new provincials…”, but the English speakers have shortened it to “Finishing School.” Once again, this really shows how international our order is. We have participants from Japan, Korea, Indonesia, India, Slovakia, Poland, Kenya and Zambia. They will be here until Saturday, but I will be sneaking out on Friday to head to Chicago to get ready for our next big meeting there which begins this coming Monday. I have finished a few books: The Kommandant’s Mistress by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman This is the story of a commandant in a camp in Germany during the war who takes a “mistress” from among the Jews in his camp. The story is told at several different times at the same time, and the transition is often nothing more than a common word. It is told from his perspective and hers. We see how the commandant is raising a family within the camp. We hear about the beginning of his career, mid-way through it during the war, and even after when his “mistress” has written books telling about her trial. The topic is disturbing, and the current that the book follows is confusing, which might well reflect the reality of what happened to those who were involved in this sad period of history. The Savage Day by Jack Higgins This is the story of a British-Irish soldier who is forced out of the army for following orders which results in a massacre of insurgents. He is then secretly recruited to spy upon the IRA in Ireland during the troubles. It is a well written spy novel with interesting characters. There are really only two major characters and a limited number of minor ones, and yet the author brings them to life in a powerful way. He treats the IRA in quite a fair way, showing that there are members who are honest patriots and others who are homicidal maniacs. There are a number of spins along the way that keep one wondering. Higgins is really a fine author. The Vicomte of Bragelonne by Victor Hugo This is a typically long, drawn account of some proceedings at the court of King Louis XIV when he is quite young and still controlled by the queen mother and Cardinal Mazerin. Athos, one of the three musketeers, is on a mission to help Charles II of England reclaim his throne after the death of Oliver Cromwell. After Charles is restored, the story shifts to the intrigues at the palace of Louis XIV in the early years of his reign. We hear about how Louis XIV brings back one of the Musketeers to be the captain of his guard, and how he tries to set a course for himself that is not so conditioned by his counselors who were robbing the country blind. We also hear about some of the escapades which occur when the king tries to cut his dependence upon one counselor who has lined his pockets and he begins to trust another. The book ends on an odd note, almost as if it had been cut off at the end of an episode and not the entire story. Have a good week. Shalom Fr. Jude

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rome - Nazareth - Jerusalem - Rome

September 4, 2012 Peace and Good, I just got back from my pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was incredible. This is the third time that I have been there. Our guide was one of our friars from Padua whom I know from when I was studying in Rome many years ago: fr. Gianni Cappoletto. He is now the provincial of the Paduan province, and he took time off to give us this pilgrimage/retreat as we get ready for our general chapter. We first went north to Nazareth. There we stayed with the OFM friars at the basilica of the Annunciation. We visited Bethlehem, Capernaum, the site of the Beatitudes, the site of the multiplication of bread and loaves and of Peter’s mandate to be the chief shepherd of the Church, etc. The weather was very hot, and I would not recommend having a tour at the end of August. Yet, it meant that there were not quite as many tourists as there often are. The second part of the pilgrimage was based in Jerusalem. We went to Qumran, Jericho, Bethlehem, Ein Karin, Emmaus, etc. We even had Mass both on the hill of Calvary within the basilica of the Holy Sepulchre and within the tomb in which Jesus was buried and from which he rose from the dead. . As a writer, I was both listening for myself and for what I could share in my articles in the Messenger of St. Anthony. I found some dozen topics upon which I can write over these next months. This is not the St. Anthony’s Messenger magazine which comes from Cincinnati. It is the English language version of our magazine printed in Padua. If anyone is ever interested in subscribing, you could write to the Anthonian Association, 101 St. Anthony Drive, Mount St. Francis, IN 47146. In the States, a year’s subscription costs $31. It is a good international magazine (11 issues a year). My most positive moment during the pilgrimage was on the mount where the Beatitudes were proclaimed. To be honest, we are not sure exactly where they were proclaimed, but this is the spot where that event is commemorated. There was something about the site and the day that deeply moved me. My worst moment was in the Holy Sepulchre, as it has been the last two times I was in the Holy Land. The tomb is jointly administered by the Orthodox, the Armenians, the Copts and the Roman Catholics. It is a four ring circus. It is noisy and not very prayerful. We did have a wonderful moment of prayer when we had a vigil in the Church of the Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane after hours. The church is very somber and one sees the rock of the garden right under the altar. The trees in the garden are very, very old. (Probably not dating to the time of Jesus, but their antiquity gives that sense nevertheless). The OFM Franciscans who take of the sites in the Holy Land are real heroes. They do a wonderful job and are friendly and helpful. I cannot say enough about them and their often difficult service. A troubling aspect of the visit is the wall that Israel is constructing to keep out terrorists. They have extended the wall all throughout the Arab zones to confiscate their land. They make daily life for the inhabitants very, very difficult. If one is working on the other side of the wall, it can take hours to get through it each day. I don’t know what the solution to terrorism is, but this one is not working. It is only creating more and more hatred which will have a bad effect in the long run. I finished a few books these days: The Jesuits in North America by Francis Parkman This 19th century book (by the same author of the book, The Oregon Trail) speaks of the Jesuit mission in North America. It outlines some of the different cultural backgrounds of the tribes among whom the Jesuits served. It then goes on to speak about the mission of some of the early Jesuit missionaries first in Montreal and then among the Hurons. While the author clearly admires the Jesuits, he also speaks of how they so controlled the life of the early settlers that it was unhealthy. We hear about the establishment of Montreal. We then hear about the sufferings and martyrdom of the missionaries by the Iroquois. We also hear about the eventual success of the mission, especially among the Huron. Even though Parkman is not Catholic (and in the 19th century there was a lot of prejudice against Catholics), one can see the respect and at times the awe that Parkman feels toward the heroism of the early Jesuit missionaries. The missionaries were unfortunate in that their mission to the Huron and Algonquin was damaged by the attacks of the Iroquois confederacy. They also suffered through disease which ironically might have been brought into the villages by the missionaries themselves. By the end of their mission, most of those whom they had served had been conquered or died. The book is not an easy read for it was written during the 19th century, but it is well worth reading. Everyman by Philip Roth The story begins at the funeral of a Jewish man who has died in old age during a serious operation. His daughter misses him, his sons much less so for they were estranged. We then hear memories of his life, starting with how he was raised by a father who owned a jewelry shop. Then we hear about his relationships. He had been married three times. The first time he divorced after having two sons. His second marriage was ideal but he cheated on his loving, trusting wife. His third marriage to a woman many years his junior was a disaster. We hear of how he retires and slowly loses his health, having to undergo a major operation every year in his last years. He finds himself lonely and diminished. He begins to think of death without any perspective of the afterlife. The book is good, if not a bit depressing (which is sometimes the logical response to what is happening in some people’s lives). Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith This is the story of Arkady Renkin, a detective in the Soviet Union during the days of Brezhnev. He is assigned to investigate a triple murder. All he hopes is that the investigation will go away and be taken over by the KGB. Instead, he discovers more and more of the truth, blindly driven to do his work well even when it puts him in danger. In the meantime, his marriage is falling apart for his wife has fallen in love with a communist official with good connections. He falls in love with a dissident who is involved. He runs afoul of a group of renegade KGB agents. The story ends up in the US when he has to confront the businessman who is behind the whole thing. This whole genre of literature is fascinating. There is a disjoint between what is happening and what the characters know. There is constant suspicion. A commitment to honesty can prove deadly in the Soviet system. This is definitely a good read. Have a good week. Shalom Fr. Jude

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ocean City - Ellicott City - Rome

August 25, 2012 The Feast of St. Louis, the King Peace and Good, The feast we celebrate today, that of St. Louis the King, is that of one of the patrons of the Secular Franciscans. St. Francis founded three bands of Franciscans: the friars who live religious life, the Poor Clares who live Francis’ calling in a cloistered life style, and the Seculars, which is lay people who live the ideals of Francis in their daily lives in the world. One could almost say that the Seculars are the oldest of the three groups, because Francis did not really have the idea of founding a religious order right from the start. I have finished off my vacation at an apartment that the friars have in Ocean City in Maryland. I don’t really spend much time on the beach. For me, the most restful thing is to listen to the waves hitting the beach. Ten minutes of that relaxes me. Yesterday I came back to Rome. It was an uneventful trip which nowadays is quite a good thing. The number of tourists in Rome has gone done quite a bit, which is very good considering how hot it still is over here. They say that there is going to be a break in the weather this coming week. I am writing this blog a day early because tomorrow I and the rest of the General Definitory are leaving for Israel to make a pilgrimage and retreat at the end of our years of service. Remember, we are getting ready for our General Chapter which will take place in Assisi from mid-January through mid-February. All ten of our positions are up for renewal or replacement. A few of the assistants have already made it clear that they would like to pass on the responsibility to someone else. I probably don’t have much of a chance of getting out because I have only been here two years filling out Brother John Joseph’s term, and they usually seek some continuity among the assistants to pass on the historical memory to the next team. As I have said previously, I really don’t mind staying on if that is what the Spirit wants, but I wouldn’t mind retiring from this responsibility either. I love meeting the friars and sharing in what they are doing, but the travel gets a bit old after a while. I have finished a few books this week: Urgent Questions 2: Five Flash Fiction Stories by Joshua Scribner I have read short stories by Scribner before. This is a series of five very short stories that deal with a question. For example, why is it that two particular people survive a harvesting of humans from outer space. The answer is that they were wearing a particular insect repellant (which they have just run out of). Why are two others saved – because they are both obsessive compulsive (although one unfortunately started taking medicine which masks the symptoms and makes him vulnerable to attack). This is the general tenor of these stories – science fiction with a twist. The Romanov Prophecy by Steve Berry The story is based on the idea that Rasputin, the mad monk who guided the last czar of Russia, predicted the dynasty’s restoration after 25 years. It is set in the days immediately after communism had fallen, and the country of Russia has established a commission to name the new czar. An American lawyer and a Russian circus acrobat join forces to find a direct descendant of the last czar, but they face incredible difficulties along the way, being attacked by forces that want to take over the throne for their own candidate. Foma Gordyeff (The Man who was Afraid) by Maxim Gorky This is a very strange story of a young man who is born to a rich merchant father and who cannot find his way in life. He turns to drink, to loose women, etc. but it all leaves him feeling that something is missing and he cannot put his finger on what that might be. He drifts through life in anger and drunkenness, eventually raging out at the merchant class for their hypocrisy and their exploitation of the poor to make their riches. His Godfather, who helped raise him, has him locked away in an insane asylum, and when he is released, he wanders the streets spewing out his venom (which is true but ignored). I hope you have a good week. I will not be writing another blog until I get back from the Holy Land right after Labor Day. Shalom Fr. Jude

Monday, August 20, 2012

Buffalo - Ellicott City - Ocean City

August 20, 2012 Peace and Good, Hope you are well. I have managed to get a couple of weeks off to visit relatives and rest. I flew up to Buffalo to visit my brother and his family and my sister. I have not had too much of a chance to see them since I was stationed in Rome. It was good seeing them and catching up on how things are going. I am now on the Eastern Shore of Maryland at Ocean City. The friars have an apartment here which we can use to unwind. The weather has not been all that good, but that doesn’t make too much of a difference. My idea of a vacation is to relax and read and say my prayers and not do much of anything else. I finished a few books. They are: Russia Against Napoleon by Dominic Lieven The is an exhaustive account of the French invasion of Russia during the days of Napoleon. Lieven asks why the Russians were able to defeat the French. One of his responses is that they were much better in supplying their troops with food, horses, and weapons. Furthermore, he shows how the strategy of retreating and drawing the French deep into Russia was the right path. By the time that the French arrived at Moscow, they had already lost much of their strength. They had to retreat for want of supplies, and the retreat destroyed their remaining strength. The scene then shifts to Germany where the troops of Russia join forces with those of Prussia and Austria to fight Napoleon’s newly constituted army. In the early days of the offensive of 1813, it was a close run thing. Napoleon could have easily won. It was the strength and insight of Czar Alexander of Russia that helped keep the coalition together until the allied troops entered Paris and overthrew Napoleon. From Jesus to Constantine: a History of Early Christianity by Bart Ehrman This is a series of 24 lectures from the Teaching Company which speak about the growth of Christianity from its beginning until the time that it was declared the state religion of the Roman empire. The lecturer is good and fair in his treatment of the issues. For me, it was nothing all that new, but it is always good to go over some of the things that one thinks that one knows to remind oneself of them. He asks questions about the background of the faith, how was it that it was so successful, what happened during the persecutions, how did it develop a liturgy, a hierarch, a belief, etc. I do not agree with all of his interpretation of scripture texts, but he is not too bad. And, like I said, it is always good to have a review. Mr. Murder by Dean Koontz Typical of many of the books by Dean Koontz, this is a very violent book. It is about the intersection of two men, one a novel writer with a family and the other a mass murderer for hire. The mass murderer turns out to be an exact clone of the author and is seeking the truth of his life, for all he knows about life is what he has learned from the movies. There are many twists and turns, and it is filled with the dread that one often finds in a Koontz book. His books are not for the squeamish, but it is a good read. Have a good week. Shalom Fr. Jude

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rome - Assisi - Rome - Ellicott City - Buffalo

August 12, 2012 Peace and Good, Well, this week I finished off my days in Rome catching up on many of the projects that had been put on the back burner for far too long. I was able to finish everything that absolutely had to be done, so I was able to head off on my vacation feeling pretty good about things. On Monday one of our friars from my province arrived in Rome, fr. Michael Lasky. He is the regional head of Franciscans International at the New York office. We spent quite some time comparing notes on the organization and brain-storming about how we could best serve its needs. On Tuesday we headed up to Assisi. I had to go there to give a talk and be celebrant and preacher at a Mass for a large group of young people who were making a pilgrimage to Assisi. This program is called giovani verso Assisi, young people to Assisi, and it is a week of prayer and discussion and fun for young people. There were over 200 of them from Italy, Spain, Germany, the States, Canada, Uzbechistan, Russia, Poland, Croatia, Turkey, etc. It was fascinating giving a talk to them and hearing it be translated into so many different languages. I was pleased the way the talk went. Thursday I headed over to the States. We had a little excitement on the flight from London. One person had a medical emergency, and another person was arrested for being drunk and abusive during the flight. Saturday morning I flew up to Buffalo to visit some family and spend some days off. Tuesday I’ll be flying back to Baltimore. Dillinger’s Wild Ride: The Year that Made America’s Public Enemy Number One by Elliot Gorn It can be very interesting to see how situations and individuals can interact to produce much more than they would appear to be on the surface. John Dillinger was a bank robber in the mid-west during the Great Depression. He was quite successful at his occupation. Some of those who surrounded him were very violent (such as Baby Face Nelson), but he was not all that violent compared to them. He gained a certain fame and appeal because he was robbing banks, and this was the depression. Most people felt that the owners of banks had robbed them (for many of them failed and closed in these years). He became the nemesis of the founder of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, and was named by Hoover as the first public enemy number one. He was eventually killed coming out of a movie theater in Chicago, betrayed by one of the women whom he was accompanying. His father always blamed his life of crime upon the fact that after his first crime he received an unusually long sentence in a prison where he learned to be a true criminal. There were hints even before that, however, that he just didn’t fit into a normal definition of life on the farm. The book was well written, well documented, and an easy read. The Nuremberg Trial by Ann Tusa and John Tusa This trial of the surviving leaders of the Nazi government at the end of World War II established the principal of human rights and crimes against humanity. How was it decided to have a trial? Who was involved? What were the major elements of the trial? This highly documented book speaks about the decision to hold the trial and those who were instrumental first in setting up the mechanism and then those who actually ran the trial. We get to know the judges, the prosecuting attorneys from the US, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and France. We hear about each of the defendants and their defense lawyers. The trial itself went over six months. The documentation to the crimes was mind-numbing, most of it being the documents produced by the defendants themselves. Most of them were condemned to death, but a few received lighter sentences and three were actually acquitted. As one reads the book, one realizes that it was not just about the people being tried, it was also an attempt to establish some crucial principles in international law (the illegality of an offensive war, of genocide and other crimes against humanity, etc.). People had to know that there would be a reckoning. The greatest criticism against the trial is that the allies, and especially the Soviet Union, did many of the same things. Most the time, however, if they did these things, it was as an exception and not as a policy. No first attempt could be perfect, but the trial did serve the world well. Memoirs of a Revolutionist by Peter Kropotkin This is the story of a Russian from a military, middle class family in the days of Alexander II, the czar who freed the serfs (on the positive side) but who also proved to be a reactionary leader, especially crushing a rebellion in Poland with mass killings and exiles to Siberia. The author tells his story from his youth, and how the reactionary climate in Russia led him to believe in socialism (especially after he visited Siberia and Finland during his geologic and geographic investigations). He is eventually arrested by the authorities and put in prison for two years. He is able to escape from prison and takes refuge in Western Europe where he comes into contact with the socialist movement, especially with those who desire no government but rather a true government of the people. His presentation of the people involved in this movement makes them sound like saints, but we know that they had their flaws, some of them murderously obvious (for members of the anarchist movement often became assassins).

Monday, August 6, 2012


August 6, 2012 The Feast of the Transfiguration Peace and Good, I hope you are all well. I have been at home in Rome this past week. This has been a great time to catch up on writing projects for the order and for my publishers. It is difficult to do all of these things when I am on the road, but being here for an extended period of time has been great. Rome is very, very hot this time of the year. My bedroom, fortunately, is air conditioned. Yet, when it is in the 90’s every day, it is hard to find the energy to do things. I will be heading off on vacation at the end of this week, visiting family in Buffalo and spending some time near the shore of the Atlantic (God willing that there are no hurricanes that week). There have been quite a few friar visitors from the States these past few days. One of them, Mike Lasky, will be coming over today. He is the head of the regional office for Franciscans International, the group that lobbies at the UN for the needs of the poor, the environment, etc. We are going to visit a representative of the Community of St. Giles. This is a lay run organization founded in 1968 as a response to the student riots that occurred that year. Their purpose was to develop a meaningful way to live our Catholic lives in an everyday setting. They are really quite impressive in their commitment. Tomorrow I will head up to Assisi to give a talk on the Word of God to a group of young people who are making a pilgrimage to Assisi in these days. These are the books I have finished this week: Lightening by Ed McBain This is another one of the detective novels written by Ed McBain (which is actually a pen name). It has two stories that run in parallel, that of a serial killer who hangs his victims from a light pole and a serial rapist. The treatment of the detectives is good, light, without getting into too much detail. There is an enormous amount of stereotyping, but not in a bad way. The only complaint I have is that the author has a tendency to skip from one character and one story to another without ever telling you, so you read three or four lines before you realize what has happened. Incendiary by Chris Cleave The book begins with a letter from a woman who has lost her beloved husband and son to a bomb planted in a soccer stadium. One of the most poignant phrases that she uses is that the bombers have left a boy shaped hole in the shape of the universe. The irony is that her husband was a bomb disposal expert for the London police, and he had just decided to retire from his job so that he might be safe with his family. She is writing to Osama bin Laden, explaining the pain she feels and what she has lost. She is not a perfect person, having had a fling with a newspaper reporter in the days just before the bombing. She is hospitalized after the bombing, and tries to commit suicide. She eventually decides to push on because she feels that she is like London during the blitz, too dumb and too poor to give up. She gets a job at the police office with the captain in charge of fighting terrorism. One sees how more and more freedom is lost as the fear grows. She has an odd relationship with the newspaper reporter and his girlfriend. She ends up having an affair with the police captain who eventually admits to her that the police knew about the terrorist attempt but didn’t do anything about it because they were afraid of losing one of their informants. It is a tough story, and yet the narrator has a funny way of telling the whole story. Roman Blood by Steven Saylor This is another one of the novels on the period of Roman history around the time of Julius Caesar. This one is placed before Julius becomes important, at the end of the reign of a Roman dictator named Sulla. He was famous for his juridical murders. He would place lists of hundreds of his enemies in the Roman forum and invite the murder of those people. At first they were his political enemies. Later, they were also people whose only crime was that they were rich (for upon their murder, their properties were confiscated). In this confusing situation, a man is murdered. His son is accused of his murder, and Cicero must defend him. This is his first big trial, and he hires Gordianus the Finder, a type of detective, to find out what really happened. There are a number of twists to the story, so much so that one does not find out what is really going on until the very end of the story. It is very well done, as are Saylor’s other books. Hope you have a good week. Shalom Fr. Jude

Monday, July 30, 2012


July 29, 2012 Peace and Good, I hope you are all well. I have been in Rome this past week, catching up on all the projects that are overdue because I have not have time over these past months to complete them. Travelling all the time makes it difficult to do some of the things which you have been asked to do. Now that we finished our definitory this past Saturday, I had a full week to work on these other things. I will continue to be in Rome for another 10 days or so, and then head up to Assisi to give a talk on the Word of God to a group of youth who will be gathering there for a summer camp with St. Francis. I will write up the talk in English, but they have asked me to make the presentation in Italian. The weather here has been very hot these past days. This is a time of the year that it is a terrible idea to visit Rome. Even the Holy Father gets out of the city and goes off to the hills outside of Rome, Castel Gondolfo, to get out of the oppressive heat. Most of the other members of the curia are either travelling these days or taking a bit of vacation. Our Minister General and the Assistant General for Latin America are off at our missions on the Amazon in Brazil. I am actually the only definitory member at home, so you might say that I am in charge of the order for these next few days. It’s not as exciting as it sounds. I have to be within phone range in case we get any important phone calls, and I have to sort out the mail to make sure that nothing important has arrived. The Secretary General will be back home at the end of the week. I have finished a few books. The range of these three books gives you a good sense of how eclectic my reading habits are. Much of what I read is determined by what is on sale on my Kindle. The Bismark: The Final Days of Germany’s Greatest Battleship by Niklas Zetterlin This is the story of the building and the sinking of the great German battleship the Bismark. It was built to sink merchant shipping. Yet, it was discovered early in its attempt to break out into the Atlantic. In its first battle it sank the Hood, one of England’s most beloved ships. It was slightly damaged in the battle, and decided to head to Brest in France for repairs. On the way, it lost its pursuers, and then was located again. Eventually, a torpedo from an airplane hit it in a spot that froze its steering mechanism. From that point on, it was a sitting target, and it was sunk the next day. Anthony and Cleopatra by Colleen McCullough Lately I have been reading a series of detective novels by Stephen Saylor about the Roman empire. This is a totally different style which deals with the story of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra and Augustus Caesar. It deals more with the question from the point of view of romance and intrigue, but it nevertheless gives a huge amount of historic detail. I especially like the portraits of the various characters involved in the drama. It portrays Anthony as a well meaning brute of a figure who has huge appetites which often lead him into difficulty. Caesar is presented as a stoic, often cold, always calculating figure. Cleopatra is shown to be a royal mother who is clever to the point of being conniving. Most of her plots are to further the prospects of her son by Julius Caesar. It is well worth a read. Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton This is an apologia for belief. It is written in a style that was common in 19th century England (e.g. Cardinal Newman). It was written in the first half of the 20th century. The arguments are based upon the idea belief is not only reasonable; it is the only reasonable idea. He demolishes the rationalist ideas of scientists and free thinkers. The only problem is that it is not an easy read. The arguments are filled with imagery that was understandable in the era in which it was written, but is less so today. What I liked the most is the idea that Christianity allows one to be imaginative, childlike in one’s approach to the world, while the secular approach is not really as “free” as its proponents would have us believe. They have categorically refused to believe in anything that cannot be measured, quantified, qualified. A child with imagination can believe in dragons and flying cows. A child can believe in that which that child has never seen. But to refuse to believe in what one cannot see and measure is a type of slavery to one’s senses and it shuts one out of so many possibilities. Hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, July 23, 2012


July 23, 2012 Peace and Good, I hope you are well. I have been in Rome all this week for meetings. This was our regular definitory which lasts from Monday morning until Saturday lunch time. We are getting ready for our General Chapter this coming January. Representatives from over 80 jurisdictions throughout the world (over 40 different countries) will be gathering in Assisi for four weeks to discuss the future of the order. There will also be elections for our Minister General and his definitory. My term finished then for I am filling in for my predecessor who passed away two years ago. If the friars feel that the Spirit is calling me to serve for another term, that would be six years. I am ready for either. If I am to stay in Rome, that is fine. If I am called to another apostolate, that would be fine as well. The weather here in Rome has been quite warm this week. Thank goodness that much of our building is now air conditioned. That is not at all guaranteed over here, because Italians are deathly afraid of drafts. They think that it is bad for one’s liver. (Of course, it’s not the wine they drink, but rather the drafts.) I will be home here in Rome for the next few weeks catching up on a number of projects that had to be put off for quite some time. It is a good feeling to know that I will be able to finish these things. I have finished a few books. The first one by Kadare was really incredible. It gives one insight to a very different culture and I highly recommend it. The Ghost Rider by Ismail Kadare The author is Albanian, and wrote mostly during the time of the control of Albania by the communists. Many of his works had to be smuggled out of the country, and he had to be careful what he wrote about lest the government crack down upon him. This is a story which takes place in medieval Albania in which a young woman who had married and travelled to a distant land suddenly shows up at her mother’s doorway. She claims that her brother brought her home. The only problem is that her brothers (nine of them) had all died of a plague shortly after her marriage and her departure. Both she and her mother immediately collapse and they both die shortly afterwards. The police investigator of the village must get to the bottom of the truth lest people begin to say (which was already happening) that her brother had come back from the dead. By the end of the story one realizes that it has less to do with the question of whether someone had risen from the dead or not. It was all about the promise that the brother had made to his sister to bring her back to her mother if and when she was needed. In Albania, this is called a besa. It is a promise but also a matter of honor. Albania lie between the east and the west, between the Christian and Muslim world. Its entire understanding of itself would shortly be shaken by war and confusion. The people needed something on which they could relay. The besa, honor, gave them an interior guide which could direct their conduct. We could also think of its importance in a communist system in which out author was writing. The government wanted to control everything, but they could not control a man’s self-worth if he was a man of honor and integrity. Crush by Alan Jacobson This is the story of an FBI profiler who goes on a vacation to the wine country of California with her boyfriend, only to be caught up in the investigation of a serial killer. She, herself, almost becomes a victim. She works with and against the local police. There are the usual questions of the FBI and local jurisdiction, mixed in with a dose of local dirty politics. The serial killer proves to be illusive, possibly because while some of his killings are simply his own agenda, others seem to have a financial stake. The book ends without tying up all the loose ends, a choice made by the author to leave room in the story for a sequel. Maximum Ride by James Patterson James Patterson has set up a cottage industry of co-authoring books of various different styles. This is the story of a group of teen age mutant children. They have been genetically altered so that they have wings and other unusual abilities. Bad people are constantly trying to capture them or kill them. The dialog is intended to be wise-guy cool, something an adult would think that a teen ager might say. This is an easy read, funny in parts. The bottom line of this particular volume is to combat global warming. Not exactly rocket science, but something that can help one to relax. I hope you have a good week. Shalom Fr. Jude