Monday, November 12, 2012


November 12, 2012 Peace and Good, I have been in Rome all week for our General Definitory meeting. Most of the business involved the preparations for our General Chapter which will be meeting in Assisi from mid-January through mid-February. There will be representatives from the over 80 jurisdictions of the order from over 60 countries around the world. The chapter will decide the course that our order will take for the next six years. This is an ordinary chapter. Every once in a while, there is an extraordinary chapter to deal with particular problems or topics that are too large to deal with at the ordinary chapter. The ordinary chapter is called every six years to elect the leadership team for the order for that six year period and to discuss other topics of importance for the whole order. The big topic over these next years is the rewriting of the constitutions of our order. Our present constitutions were written right after the Second Vatican Council. At that time, most of the order was found in Europe and North America. Right now that is changing. The vocations in the older parts of our order are way down while those in the south and east are exploding. Furthermore, the Vatican has come out with many new documents on religious life since the Vatican Council. It would be good to take those into account in our constitutions. This work began four years ago, and will continue for the next four or five years. Another big topic which we have to address is how to finance our missions where there are many vocations. We need to find a more equitable way of sharing our resources, both financial and personnel. I am going to be in Rome most of the time for the next couple of months as we continue our preparations for the General Chapter. My reading this week has included: The Fox by Arlene Radasky This book is set in England and Scotland in two eras, during the days shortly after the invasion of the Romans and in the modern era. It speaks extensively about the druids and their religion. The hero of the story serves as a seer and folk medicine doctor. The other modern hero is an archaeologist who is able to find the ruins that deal with her because she is channeling her spirit. The older part of the story takes place around 80 AD when the Scotts are preparing to do combat with the Romans who are invading their territory. It is interesting to hear the story from the viewpoint of those who lost the battle. The author is clearly fascinated with the religion of those days. I think she glorifies it a bit too much, but it is good to hear what the people of those days believed and how they worshipped their gods. It was a good book with some good insights. Marker by Robin Cooke Cooke, I believe, is a doctor, and he really hates the health insurance industry. This is the second book of his that I have read where the insurance companies plot to kill people who cut into their profit. The plot is well developed, and I found it interesting. Even though you know from the start who the killer is, it is nevertheless exciting for the plot twists and turns. The characters are all a bit flawed, something of them terribly so. The ending was a bit forced, almost as if he realized he had to tie up all the loose ends in the last ten pages. Overall, though, it was a good read. The Devil’s Banker by Christopher Reich This is a book on CD that I listened to in an abridged form. Even though it was abridged, it was done quite well. It is about an agent for the US government who is an accountant and whose task it is to investigate the money used by terrorists. He uncovers a plot to kill the president and the king of Saudi Arabia. The constant theme of the book is “follow the money.” There is quite a bit of spy action, with the story unwinding in Pakistan, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the US. There is even a tame love story thrown in. I would say that it was worth reading. Saint Athanasius: The Father of Orthodoxy by F.A. Forbes This is a short biography of one of the great defenders of orthodoxy in Christianity. He especially opposed the errors of the Arians. The Arians were named after a certain Arius who taught that Jesus was not equal to the Father, but rather was created in time and therefore was a creature. The Nicean Creed was developed to fight this heresy (as one can hear when we profess that Jesus was consubstantial with the Father). Athanasius was the patriarch of Alexandria in Egypt, one of the great early Christian sees. He was repeatedly persecuted for holding on to the faith, often in collusion with the emperor of the Roman Empire (for the Arians were very influential with the emperors). Yet, for all that he suffered and fought, he remained faithful and the orthodox position eventually gained sway in the Roman Empire. God bless and Shalom Fr. Jude


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