Monday, July 2, 2012

Ellicott City - Malvern, PA - Ellicott City

July 2, 2012 Peace and Good, I am sorry that this blog is a bit late, but I am caught up in the power outage that has hit the east coast. They are speaking about the power being out for as long as a week. This afternoon I begin a retreat at a local retreat house which I believe has power. This past week I preached a retreat for the friars of Immaculate Conception Province and St. Anthony Province at Malvern, PA. The retreat house there is the largest retreat house in the nation, and it is run entirely by laymen. There is a real advantage with that. We religious were never trained in business practices, and we often make big mistakes when we try to run large enterprises. Business people have more of a sense of how things should be run: e.g. how much to charge, how to hire people, how to advertise, etc. The retreat went very well. I come from one of the provinces of the men on the retreat, and I am amazed that they treat me with such great respect. Part of it is, I am sure, respect for the responsibility that I have been asked to fulfill: Assistant General. Part of it seems to be their hunger for Sacred Scripture which I explain in the conferences. I am so grateful to be able to share my insights with them. That was why I was sent on for further studies: to share what I learned with those who want to know more. I have one more session of this retreat this week, and then another two in October. That will complete my cycle of retreats for the year. Then, it will be a question of waiting until our General Chapter in January to see whether I will continue in this responsibility or whether they will ask me to do something else. I have finished a few books (although getting a charge for my e book has been a bit of a challenge). They are: Winter Sea by Susanna Kearnsley This is a novel set at two levels. At one level, it is the story of a historic novelist who wants to write a novel about characters who live in Scotland around 1700 and who are involved in an abortive rebellion to bring back a Stuart king in Scotland. (This was the time of the unification of reigns between England and Scotland.) The other level is the story that this novelist tells, but which all but seems to be channeled into her dreams. She knows details that no one could possibly know, and she finds out that part of the story is actually part of her own family’s past. It is not a question of some previous life. It is more the question of whether some of our family memories can be passed down through our DNA, a good question upon which we can reflect. It almost sounds like something that Carl Jung would talk about, the unconscious memory of people as individuals and as a group. More than dealing with the actual historic details, the story is of a love affair between a young woman and a Scottish officer in the service of a French king, as well as of the author and the older son of her landlord. As an author, she feels the obligation to tell the story as it happened, even when it seems to have a sad ending (something that her book agent will not accept). Romulus: Founder of Rome by Jacob Abbott This is one of the series of books by Abbott on historical figures. The difficulty of this book is that there is relatively little information about who Romulus actually was (if he, in fact, ever existed). The book is therefore packed with filler, like the introduction of the alphabet to Europe and the story of the Trojan horse. There are the usual stories from legend, as well as a good amount of information on the institutions of the Roman Republic (such as the role of the family, augury, etc.) Mountains of the Pharaohs: the Untold Story of the Pyramid Builders by Zahi Howas This is a very good presentation of how the pyramids were built and by whom. The author is an Egyptian archaeologist who worked on the excavation of various pyramid sights. He speaks of the history of the pharaohs responsible, the techniques used in building the pyramids, and the reasons why there are variations in the style and location of them. I never realized that the pyramid sights were actually the seats of government, the pharaoh and his court being located within a short distance from the pyramid being built. Furthermore, rather than picturing the pyramids being built by slaves, they were actually put up by a well fed and well trained team that was supplied with material from a well articulated form of government that extended from the Mediterranean to the Aswan cataract. Hope you have a good week. Shalom, Fr. Jude


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