Sunday, March 25, 2012

Saltpond, Ghana - Accra, Ghana - Ndola, Zambia - Ibenga, Zambia - Rome

March 25, 2012

Peace and Good,

Sorry I missed a posting the last ten days, but as I mentioned - I have been in Africa preaching a few retreats.

The first two retreats where held in Ghana. Each was for one half of the friars there (so that they could spell each other in the apostolates).

The 17th, I flew from Accra to Johannesburg, South Africa, for whence I picked up a flight to Ndola, Zambia.

This was my first time in Zambia. It is a large country, about two and a half times the size of Italy. The population is small, however, only about 11 million people.

Our friars have a province there with about 95 friars, the vast majority of whom are Zambians.

The country has less of a tropical flavor than Ghana. It is quite a bit cooler and much less humid. The buildings have more of an English touch. The roads seem to be quite a bit better.

The two major industries are agriculture and copper mining. The Chinese have arrived in droves there (as they have all over Africa wherever they can pick up natural resources.

I preached a retreat from the 18th to the 22nd of March on the Gospel of John and how each of is called to be like the Beloved Disciple. I especially centered on the themes of matrimonial symbolism and the Eucharist.

On the last day of the retreat the friars all marched over to the cemetary to visit the tomb of Bishop Massieri, one of the friars who helped develop the diocese of Ndola. He is up for beatification. In fact, they have already declared the heroic nature of his faith, and they are now just waiting for a miracle.

On the morning of the 18th I also celebrated the English Mass for the parish in Ndola. There, if one preaches less than a half of an hour, they are disappointed. The whole Mass lasted about two hours, and they liked it.

The food there is good. The main dish is called Shima (sp?). It is a type of white corn porrage which has the consistency of mashed potato. (In fact, if you didn't know better, one would swear exactly that it was exactly that.) The one unusual food I ate this week was roasted caterpillar. It was tasty, but very chewy.

I left Zambia yesterday evening and arrived in Rome this morning.

There was one humorous episode. I asked the guardian at the mission if there was wifi in the house. He said that there was not. Then I asked if they had any internet access. He said it had been out for a bit. I told him that I would appreciate it if he would let me know if it came back during the week. He answered that he didn't think it would, given that it has been out for a year now. (Someone stole the lines that carried the internet from Ndola.)

Here are some of the books I have finished:

Biblical Wisdom Literature by Joseph Katerski
Katerski, a Jesuit professor, goes through the books of wisdom, explaining their background and their message. His scholarship is quite creditable. As a scripture student, there are things that I might describe in another way, but that does not mean that what he says is not worth listening to. He is proud of his Catholic faith and openly share insights that he believes could be shared with others. He closes his series with an examination of New Testament Wisdom material, e.g. the parables, the Sermon on the Mount, etc.

V for Vendetta by Steve Moore and the Machowski Brothers
This is an odd story of a comic book style hero in England who tries to hurt the fascist power that has taken over his beloved London after an unidentified war. V, the hero, takes under his charge a young woman who was present at a couple of his terrorist attacts, Evie. We find out that V became what he is because he was part of an experiment to develop a killer virus that was then unleased upon the population of England to frighten them into allowing a fascist government to control them. V’s goal is to lead them to freedom. There is a tinge of anarchism in the story, but overall is a good warning tale.

Daddy’s Little Girl by Mary Higgins Clark

This book begins with the murder of a teenage girl and the episode in which her younger (7 years old) sister finds her body. Years later she investigates the man who was her sister’s boyfriend and who had been convicted of her murder. He is rich, and he is blaming a young, simple classmate of the girl who was killed. The young lady, who is an investigative crime reporter, decides to write a book to prove that Rob Westerfield, the rich man, is guilty. She sets up a web site to accuse him and find others who might have information on his past life. There are not a lot of twists and turns in the story. Rather, it is just an unfolding of the various pieces of evidence while the young lady slowly comes to reconcile with her estranged father.

Paris after the Liberation 1944-1949 by Antony Beevor and Artemis Cooper

I have always like Beevor’s style. I have read his books on Stalingrad, the fall of Berlin, and the Spanish Civil War. This book is a little different in that it is not about a war period but rather the period right after the Second World War, and also it is written in collaboration with his wife who is also an author. It deals with the recovery of Paris from right after the liberation until the end of the decade. This was a tumultuous era in French politics. It seemed as if France would either have a communist revolution or be invaded by the Soviet Union. Its salvation turned out to the intervention of the Marshall Plan. In the meantime, there were twists and turns as the politicians struggle to find food and coal to feed and warm the pollution, as they tried to figure out how to treat the French who collaborated with the Nazi’s, as they sought a leader who would lead them from the wilderness. It is a good book which is very enlightening concerning the era.

The Secret History of the Court of Justinian by Procopius

This is a scandal sheet written during the reign of the emperor Justinian, emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire centered in Constantinople. Procopius wrote an above ground history of the court for public consumption, but this was the hidden version that was share with trusted friends which is vicious in its attacks on the immorality of the emperor and empress Theodora. We do know for a fact that Theodora came from a rather sordid background (circus/acting/prostitution), but some of the accusations in Procopius’ work seem to be angry vengeance. Once in a while it is good to read things like this and to be able to say, “At least it isn’t that bad today.”

Have a good week.
fr. Jude


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