Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bacau, Romania - Rome

April 12, 2012

Peace and Good,

Well, the travels of Lent have slowed down quite a bit. I finished the retreat for the clerics in Romania this past Wednesday, and then flew into Rome on Thursday. I arrived in time for the Holy Thursday service in our basilica that evening. There was quite a good crowd of people, which is unusual in our basilica. We are in the center of Rome, and most people have moved out to the suburbs. That means that we have a huge basilica with very few people who attend on a regular basis. The one great service that we offer is confessors for the students studying at the Gregorian University (run by the Jesuits) next door. There are about 2800 students from all over the world, mostly priests and sisters. We have confessors on staff so that the students can stop in on their way to school or their way home to go to confession.

The Good Friday service was more spectacular than I usually like. My favorite service throughout the year is the commemoration of the Lord’s Passion. It is so filled with silence and simplicity. According to the rules, there should be very little singing. But this is Rome where everything is done to the Baroque style. Even the Passion was sung, which made it seem more like an opera than a religious service. I am going to look for another Church next year.

These past few days I have been taking care of all the little projects that get put off when one is travelling. On Tuesday I had an appointment at our embassy to add visa pages to my passport. In the year and a half on this job I had used up all the available space in the passport. They added 48 pages to it so that should keep me going for a while. I arrived about 45 minutes early and I expected to have to wait, but they let me right in. The whole thing was done in 20 minutes. When you compare that to the bureaucracy over here, and it was all but a miracle. God bless America!

I have finished some books:

Dead Heat by Dick and Felix Francis

The book starts out with a cook’s description of food poisoning from a meal which he prepared, and it quickly moved into a bomb killing a large number of people and from which he only escapes by dumb luck. The cook is going to be sued by one of the diners who was poisoned and, when he meets her, he and she fall in love. He plays detective to see who actually poisoned the meal, for the food poisoning was not caused by a bacteria, but rather by the fact that someone added uncooked red kidney beans (which have a toxic substance that is made safe in the cooking process) to one of his sauces. The dialog is very clever and British.

Night of the Fox by Jack Higgins

This is a spy novel set in World War II just before the invasion in Normandy. An engineer who has too many secrets is ship wrecked when a mock landing goes awry. He lands on one of the channel island which is occupied by the Germans. The story then tells of a spy and his young accomplice and their adventures as they seek to rescue (or if necessary eliminate) the American engineer. The only complaint is that sometimes the author jumps a bit too much. It almost seemed as if this were an abridged edition, which it was not. Yet, overall, the writing is very good.

The Red Prince: the Secret Lives of a Hapsburg Archduke by Timothy Snyder

This is the story of a Hapsburg prince who seeks to become the king of Ukraine before, during, and after World War I. The prince’s father and family had moved to Poland in the hope of becoming their royal family if they should gain independence or more like autonomy within an expanded Hapsburg empire. Wilhelm, on the other hand, sided with the Ukrainians for much the same reason. Between the wars he lives quite a dissolute life style in Paris. When he has to leave it because of a scandal, he goes to Vienna where he sides with the fascists. This is at the same time that his brother and his family are being persecuted by the Nazis. After the war he is arrested by the Soviets for his activity to free Ukraine, and he dies shortly after being sent to prison for his “crimes.” This is an aspect of history that I had never read about, and it was fascinating.

Isabeau, A Novel of Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortiner by N. Gemini Sasson

This is a fictional novel on the difficulties of Queen Isabella, the queen married to King Edward II. He was a wretch of a king. The queen must fight for his affection, and loses to the king’s male friends. While he is having an affair with two of his counselors and giving them rewards that were really due to other members of the royalty, she decides to run away to the court of her brother, the king of France. There she begins an affair with Sir Roger Mortiner, a lord who is living there in exile after he crossed the paths of the king’s favorite. The writing is very good, although it portrays Isabella as completely innocent and the king as completely guilty, which is probably not quite accurate. I did not like the fact that the author rationalizes both adultery and abortion in the case of Isabeau as if it were all part of a romantic adventure.

Have a good week.

Fr. Jude


Post a Comment