Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rome - Chicago

September 17, 2012 Peace and Good, I have been in Rome all throughout this past week for a workshop for the new provincials and new secretaries of the various jurisdictions of our order. This is always a great event because we get to see how international our order is. There were representatives from Italy, Romania, Argentina, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, India, Korea, Japan and Indonesia. These are all first term provincials, and the workshop was instituted to help them fulfill their responsibilities. I have already had contacts with some of them and I was able to get together with a few of them to deal with situations in their provinces. One of the nice elements of this was that we had supper at our house in the Vatican. Our friars are the confessors on one side of the Basilica of St. Peter’s and they live just inside the gate on the left side of the Basilica, just beyond the Swiss guard are standing. We ate supper out on the terrazzo overlooking the gardens of the Vatican. When we friars pass through the gates, we are actually saluted by the Swiss guard. On Friday I flew out to Chicago for our meetings the next couple of weeks. I was lucky to make my connection in London because there was only about 2 ¼ hour turnover, and the plane was 1 ½ hour late leaving Rome. Fortunately, there were no problems in getting through security (which there sometimes are). The rest of the general curia arrived yesterday in Chicago. I had come a couple of days early to get the arrangements ready for the rest of them. This morning we began a series of meetings that will continue all through this week and into next week. I have finished a few books: Forever Odd by Dean Koontz This has to be one of my favorite characters: Odd Thomas. This is his actual name, either because of a mistake made by a clerk when he was born or the malicious intent of a deeply disturbed mother. Odd is a fast fry cook in a diner who also sees ghosts and becomes involved in their travails. One of these ghosts, by the way, is Elvis. In this volume he seeks to save Danny, a young man subject to brittle bone disease, who has been kidnapped by a maniac. Odd is different, but incredibly respectful to elders, humble, gentle, and kind. Toward the end of the book he reflects upon why there is so much pain and evil in the universe and how this all can be healed. I heartily recommend the whole series. Bonnie Prince Charlie: a Tale of Fontenoy and Culloden by G.A. Henty This is another of Henty’s historical novels that are intended to show heroism for the young men of Britain during the period in which they were written. This one takes place in Scotland during the last moments of the Scottish independence movement during the 18th century and in France where many of the exiled Scots fought in the army of the king of France. There are the usual twists and turns. The author manages to show the heroism of the Stuart backers without rejecting one’s duty to be faithful to the Hanoverian (George I, II and III) dynasty. He also brings across the tragedy of Scotland’s attachment to a lost cause and the consequences of such horrendous decisions. The Whiskey Rebellion: Frontier Epilogue to the American Revolution by Thomas Slaughter During the presidency of George Washington, there was a bit of a rebellion of westerners (which at that time meant western Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, etc.) against the federal government. The cause was an excise tax imposed upon whiskey. It was difficult to transport grain over the mountains to the east, and life on the western frontier was rough. Therefore, farmers would make whiskey out of their excess grain. When the federal government imposed a tax upon that whiskey, many farmers in western Pennsylvania rose in arms. This book explains why there were already tensions between the eastern establishment and western settlers. The westerners were barely surviving. They felt that the government was not helping them establish a transport system (e.g. open passage on the Mississippi). Now, it was taking what little currency they had (for much of the business of the frontier was done with barter). Furthermore, there was agitation by the Spanish and English in the hope of cutting off a bit of the land between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi. The rebellion itself was crushed quickly. Washington assigned control of a militia army to Richard Henry Lee (of the Robert E Lee family), and by the time that the army arrived in Western Pennsylvania, it was all over. Many farmers and agitators were arrested, but very few were charged. Only two of those charged were convicted, and they were pardoned by Washington. The tensions between the big eastern establishment and the small farmers and businessmen continued to fester, coming to the fore with the election of Jefferson, and even more Jackson. I hope you have a good week. Shalom Fr. Jude


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