Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ocean City - Ellicott City - Rome

August 25, 2012 The Feast of St. Louis, the King Peace and Good, The feast we celebrate today, that of St. Louis the King, is that of one of the patrons of the Secular Franciscans. St. Francis founded three bands of Franciscans: the friars who live religious life, the Poor Clares who live Francis’ calling in a cloistered life style, and the Seculars, which is lay people who live the ideals of Francis in their daily lives in the world. One could almost say that the Seculars are the oldest of the three groups, because Francis did not really have the idea of founding a religious order right from the start. I have finished off my vacation at an apartment that the friars have in Ocean City in Maryland. I don’t really spend much time on the beach. For me, the most restful thing is to listen to the waves hitting the beach. Ten minutes of that relaxes me. Yesterday I came back to Rome. It was an uneventful trip which nowadays is quite a good thing. The number of tourists in Rome has gone done quite a bit, which is very good considering how hot it still is over here. They say that there is going to be a break in the weather this coming week. I am writing this blog a day early because tomorrow I and the rest of the General Definitory are leaving for Israel to make a pilgrimage and retreat at the end of our years of service. Remember, we are getting ready for our General Chapter which will take place in Assisi from mid-January through mid-February. All ten of our positions are up for renewal or replacement. A few of the assistants have already made it clear that they would like to pass on the responsibility to someone else. I probably don’t have much of a chance of getting out because I have only been here two years filling out Brother John Joseph’s term, and they usually seek some continuity among the assistants to pass on the historical memory to the next team. As I have said previously, I really don’t mind staying on if that is what the Spirit wants, but I wouldn’t mind retiring from this responsibility either. I love meeting the friars and sharing in what they are doing, but the travel gets a bit old after a while. I have finished a few books this week: Urgent Questions 2: Five Flash Fiction Stories by Joshua Scribner I have read short stories by Scribner before. This is a series of five very short stories that deal with a question. For example, why is it that two particular people survive a harvesting of humans from outer space. The answer is that they were wearing a particular insect repellant (which they have just run out of). Why are two others saved – because they are both obsessive compulsive (although one unfortunately started taking medicine which masks the symptoms and makes him vulnerable to attack). This is the general tenor of these stories – science fiction with a twist. The Romanov Prophecy by Steve Berry The story is based on the idea that Rasputin, the mad monk who guided the last czar of Russia, predicted the dynasty’s restoration after 25 years. It is set in the days immediately after communism had fallen, and the country of Russia has established a commission to name the new czar. An American lawyer and a Russian circus acrobat join forces to find a direct descendant of the last czar, but they face incredible difficulties along the way, being attacked by forces that want to take over the throne for their own candidate. Foma Gordyeff (The Man who was Afraid) by Maxim Gorky This is a very strange story of a young man who is born to a rich merchant father and who cannot find his way in life. He turns to drink, to loose women, etc. but it all leaves him feeling that something is missing and he cannot put his finger on what that might be. He drifts through life in anger and drunkenness, eventually raging out at the merchant class for their hypocrisy and their exploitation of the poor to make their riches. His Godfather, who helped raise him, has him locked away in an insane asylum, and when he is released, he wanders the streets spewing out his venom (which is true but ignored). I hope you have a good week. I will not be writing another blog until I get back from the Holy Land right after Labor Day. Shalom Fr. Jude


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