Monday, January 21, 2013

Rome - Assisi

January 21, 2013 Peace and Good, Last week was a great opportunity to finish off the translating projects (which of course included a couple handed to me at the last minute) in preparation for the General Chapter. Then, I worked on daily reflections for the site, articles for one maganize from Padua, Italy, and also for another magazine from Manchester, England. I am caught up with all of them. Thursday and Friday were for multiple trips to the airport to meet the friars coming in for General Chapter. Friday was a little rough, six hours at the airport because one of the flights was four hours late (it was snowing in London). Everyone made it in. Saturday we travelled to Assisi. It is cold up here, and there is snow in the mountains, but not all that bad. Saturday evening we began the chapter. There are 90 provincials and delegates from all around the world. Sunday we had a big, big Mass, very high church (which means so much music that at times you began to wonder if it was a Mass or a concert). By taste, I am much more low Church, liking things to be very simple. But with big occasions like this, you have to put on the dog. This morning, Monday, we actually began the chapter. I am preaching for the first two weeks of the chapter, sort of a spiritual director. I am overwhelmed that they asked me to do this. I am setting the spiritual tone for this gathering, or at least the first half of it. I have finished a few books. (If you ever wondered how I could finish any books during one of those very busy weeks, I am still working off some of the backlog of books read in the past few months. Asylum Harbor by Traci Halbenstein A young woman on vacation with her friends disappears from their cruise boat. The father of this young woman is the governor of Florida and a candidate for the presidency. He calls in the FBI and Rachel, a tracker who had dedicated herself to finding lost children after the disappearance of her own child. There is a question of drug smuggling as well as white slavery. There is quite a bit of adventure and action. I wouldn’t classify the book as great – more like OK. Gone for Good by Harlan Coban I first became interested in this book because its hero is the director of Covenant House in New York. This is an apostolate for run away kids founded by one of our friars, Bruce Ritter, who most unfortunately ended his life in disgrace after a scandal involving both sexual abuse and incorrect use of money. His successor, by the way, was a Daughter of Charity who is now ill and probably dying at the daughter’s mother house. The hero speaks of the great care offered these damaged children. The story involves a series of murders which began with the strangling death of the hero’s ex-girlfriend, supposedly by the brother of the hero. He had run away or disappeared right after the murder and the family presumed that he was dead. There are tons of surprises in the book and you don’t really know what is going on until the end. It is well written and leaves you wondering. Articles of War by Nick Arvin A young man from the farmland in the mid-west, so innocent that he does not swear (and is thus nicknamed Heck because that is the strongest word he will use) ends up in Normandy shortly after the invasion. He is part of a replacement unit, and does not have an assignment for quite some time. While he is waiting, he meets a father along with his small son and his daughter. Later he is assigned, but traumatized during the shelling and sniping that he experiences his first night. He loses his unit and ends up falling into a shelled out building where he gets a bad cut. This ends him up in a recovery area where he waits again for an assignment. He even finds out that the daughter of the man whom he met is pregnant (although there is no chance the child is his, he still desperately loves her). When he is finally reassigned, he ends up in one of the most horrific battles of World War II: the Hertgen Forest. He thinks he is going mad. He raises his hand up above a barrier just so that he will be shot. He receives a minor wound, but must once again return to battle. He becomes part of the firing squad to execute Private Slovak, the only US solider executed during World War II for desertion. After the war he remains for a while in Europe with the occupying army for he feels lost and no longer knows where home or the truth are. He encounters the French family he once knew and finds out that the young lady he had fallen in love with has had a child (not his, but a German soldier’s due to a rape, at least this is what the father says). At the end of the story she leaves the child by his door asking him to care for it. It is a sad, poignant story of an innocent sent off to war and how it tears him apart and leaves him so confused. It is a book well worth reading. Have a good week, and please keep us in your prayers. Shalom fr. Jude


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