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


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