Monday, August 6, 2012


August 6, 2012 The Feast of the Transfiguration Peace and Good, I hope you are all well. I have been at home in Rome this past week. This has been a great time to catch up on writing projects for the order and for my publishers. It is difficult to do all of these things when I am on the road, but being here for an extended period of time has been great. Rome is very, very hot this time of the year. My bedroom, fortunately, is air conditioned. Yet, when it is in the 90’s every day, it is hard to find the energy to do things. I will be heading off on vacation at the end of this week, visiting family in Buffalo and spending some time near the shore of the Atlantic (God willing that there are no hurricanes that week). There have been quite a few friar visitors from the States these past few days. One of them, Mike Lasky, will be coming over today. He is the head of the regional office for Franciscans International, the group that lobbies at the UN for the needs of the poor, the environment, etc. We are going to visit a representative of the Community of St. Giles. This is a lay run organization founded in 1968 as a response to the student riots that occurred that year. Their purpose was to develop a meaningful way to live our Catholic lives in an everyday setting. They are really quite impressive in their commitment. Tomorrow I will head up to Assisi to give a talk on the Word of God to a group of young people who are making a pilgrimage to Assisi in these days. These are the books I have finished this week: Lightening by Ed McBain This is another one of the detective novels written by Ed McBain (which is actually a pen name). It has two stories that run in parallel, that of a serial killer who hangs his victims from a light pole and a serial rapist. The treatment of the detectives is good, light, without getting into too much detail. There is an enormous amount of stereotyping, but not in a bad way. The only complaint I have is that the author has a tendency to skip from one character and one story to another without ever telling you, so you read three or four lines before you realize what has happened. Incendiary by Chris Cleave The book begins with a letter from a woman who has lost her beloved husband and son to a bomb planted in a soccer stadium. One of the most poignant phrases that she uses is that the bombers have left a boy shaped hole in the shape of the universe. The irony is that her husband was a bomb disposal expert for the London police, and he had just decided to retire from his job so that he might be safe with his family. She is writing to Osama bin Laden, explaining the pain she feels and what she has lost. She is not a perfect person, having had a fling with a newspaper reporter in the days just before the bombing. She is hospitalized after the bombing, and tries to commit suicide. She eventually decides to push on because she feels that she is like London during the blitz, too dumb and too poor to give up. She gets a job at the police office with the captain in charge of fighting terrorism. One sees how more and more freedom is lost as the fear grows. She has an odd relationship with the newspaper reporter and his girlfriend. She ends up having an affair with the police captain who eventually admits to her that the police knew about the terrorist attempt but didn’t do anything about it because they were afraid of losing one of their informants. It is a tough story, and yet the narrator has a funny way of telling the whole story. Roman Blood by Steven Saylor This is another one of the novels on the period of Roman history around the time of Julius Caesar. This one is placed before Julius becomes important, at the end of the reign of a Roman dictator named Sulla. He was famous for his juridical murders. He would place lists of hundreds of his enemies in the Roman forum and invite the murder of those people. At first they were his political enemies. Later, they were also people whose only crime was that they were rich (for upon their murder, their properties were confiscated). In this confusing situation, a man is murdered. His son is accused of his murder, and Cicero must defend him. This is his first big trial, and he hires Gordianus the Finder, a type of detective, to find out what really happened. There are a number of twists to the story, so much so that one does not find out what is really going on until the very end of the story. It is very well done, as are Saylor’s other books. Hope you have a good week. Shalom Fr. Jude


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