Monday, July 16, 2012

Ellicott City - St. Meinrad, IN - Ellicott City - Rome

July 16, 2012 Peace and Good, This past week I was attending a province assembly of the friars of one of the Midwestern provinces, Our Lady of Consolation. The topic was intercultural fraternity. There are already a number of friars working in intercultural communities here in the United States. The province has traditionally had ties with two entities that they founded: Zambia (which is a province) and Honduras (which is a custody, or a baby province). Furthermore, in these past few years, they have established joint projects with the custody of Mexico and with the province of India. Friars from each of those jurisdictions came to the assembly to share their experiences. There were speakers on the situation of the order, on the process of mentoring, and on intercultural dialog. We were at St. Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana which is really quite some place. There are about 50 monks, and there were another 60 or 70 of us. It is always good when the friars get together, and there was a wonderful spirit there. The last day, Thursday, we have a short extraordinary chapter. A chapter is a gathering of the friars, usually every four years. But, if there are extraordinary projects to approve, then the friars (or their delegates) gather together in between to make their decisions. There was a technical matter that had to be voted upon by the chapter, so that is what we did. That evening I headed back to Baltimore, and then on Friday evening back to Rome. This morning we began our definitory which will continue on until Saturday. A friar passed away in Romania who was one of the key people in re-establishing the order there. I knew him very well, and he died on Saturday. We had been told that his funeral was Wednesday, so I got permission and bought a ticket to go to the funeral, going there tomorrow afternoon. Unfortunately, they changed the date of the funeral, and it is going to be tomorrow morning. There is only one flight a day, so I cannot be there. Not a lot I can do. As one of the friars said, you made the gesture of charity, and the Lord absolved you from having to carry it through. I really would have loved to be there though, for I know him since 1991 and he was the one who first invited me there. These are the book I have finished: The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757 by James Fenimore Cooper I expected to read a book that was basically similar to the story that was seen in the recent movie, but this book is quite different. The character Hawkeye is much more hidden, filled with native American wisdom. He constantly attacks the ways of the whites, including their religion. He is also filled with tremendous prejudice against native Americans other than the Mohicans with whom he has lived for a long while. We see the nobility of Chingachgook and his son. We see the evil of Magua. The taking of the fort seen in the film and the massacre of its refugees is repeated. The aftermath, however, is quite different. The two daughters of Munro are captured (twice actually). We see Uncas, the son of Chingachgook, take a role of leadership due to the fact that he belongs to the clan of the tortoise. The end turns out to be much more violent and sad than could have been filmed. Barbarosa: The Russian German Conflict 1941-1945 by Alan Clark This is the story of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 and the battles fought between then and the end of the war. The book is very informative. It contains a large number of accounts for those who organized both the attack and the defense. The author argues that Hitler’s military decisions for most of the invasion were not all that bad, and in fact, possibly better than the strategy proposed by his generals. Clark shows how the invasion was a near miss, for the Soviet troops were all but defeated when they were able to pull it together at the last minute. Toussaint L’Ouverture: a Biography and Autobiography John Relly Beard This is a presentation of the life of the leader of the freed blacks who established Haiti as an independent nation at the beginning of the 19th century. This revolution was marked by incredible violence among the various parties involved: black slaves, those of mixed race, the rich whites and the poor whites. The presentation of Toussaint is one of a sainted figure who tried to reconcile the various warring parties and establish peace among the people, while never surrendering the liberation of his own black people from the bondage of slavery. I am not sure that he was quite as innocent as is presented, but it is clear that he was poorly treated first by the French Republic and then by Napoleon. The book was written as a type of apologia for blacks, showing that they could lead themselves and fight for their own rights. This message was intended for the US as much as for Haiti.


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