Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rome - Assisi - Rome

March 26, 2013 Peace and Good, I have been in Rome all this past week with the exception of yesterday when I took a day trip up to Assisi. This week has been a good week to catch up on daily reflections. Once in a while I wonder whether anyone is listening to them, but every time that I am about to give up on them, two or three people come to me out of the blue and tell me that they often listen to them. I take that as a sign of the Holy Spirit that I should continue working on this project. The weather in Rome has been quite cold, but there are signs of Spring in the air. Many of the Spring flowering trees are already in bloom. I hope we have a nice, warm Easter Sunday. The Pope continues to be a hit. He does not have to do great things. He only has to be himself, and everyone falls in love with him and his style. Yesterday I was at Assisi for a small celebration for the Custos who finished his four year mandate and for the new Custos. This is an assignment made by the General Definitory. We thought about this one for a long time. The previous Custos was doing a good job, but he was better at continuing what was rather than trying something new. We just felt that it was time for a new leader there to guide the friars to continue to examine their lives and try to do a better job at what they are doing. This week I will be in Rome, and then Easter Monday I will be on the road again, this time for a month. I have finished a few books: Rebel by Bernard Cornwell This is a book about a young man who runs away from his family to have a fling with a loose woman. He ends up on the wrong side of the border just as the civil war is beginning. He signs up to fight for the south, even though his father is a famous abolitionist preacher. The leader of the regiment is a rich landlord who organizes the regiment for his own glory. The young man, Nate, come to learn who he is and what he wants though a series of adventures. Some unlikely figures turn out to be much more heroic than those who touted their courage before the battle. The book goes up to the first battle of Bull Run. Overall, I was a little disappointed in this book. It thought it would be a more realistic portrait of the story. Rather, it was in the style of literature of Henty, a 19th century author who wrote books for the edification of young Englishmen to teach them how to act as virtuous conquerors of the world. It had the same feel, especially in certain scenes dealing with the violence of war. Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky And this is exactly what this book is all about. Kurlansky has written a series of book like this that cover one produce and how it is produced and used. I previously read his book on cod. He is a good author who piles on facts both interesting and not so. He speak about the history of salt production and how the presence or absence of salt influenced the history of certain areas. A good example of this is how the northern armies during the Civil War consistently tried to destroy the salt works in the south as one way of forcing them to surrender. One of those area attacked was Avery Island in Louisiana. This place is important because right after the war its owner decided to grow peppers from Central America and to make a sauce from them which we today call Tobasco sauce. He speak of how salt was used to produce long lasting foods when there were few other ways of preserving it, e.g. anchovies, sauerkraut, hams, etc. He speaks of how its use it either considered to be healthy or unhealthy. It is a good book, filled with trivia (which I like). One example is ketchup was originally the name given to a fish sauce, and only gradually came to be applied to the tomato sauce that we know as ketchup today. The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory This is a very interesting book. It is the story of Mary, Queen of the Scots and her imprisonment in England before her death. The story is told in three voices: Mary, Lord Talbot who is her “host”, and Talbot’s wife Bess. Mary is sweet and beautiful and one of the most manipulative people who ever lived. (She learned much of her deviousness in France where she grew up at the French court, becoming the Queen of France for a short time (for her husband died a year after taking the throne). Talbot is a man of honor, faithful to whatever monarch rules in England, but a bit of a fool. Bess is his businesswoman wife. She thinks only of her possessions and especially of her property. She was poor as a child, and she strives never to fall back into poverty again. This is the kind of book that it is good to know a little of the background material, the historic background to be able to follow the story better. The three characters are not exactly likeable, but they are very, very real. Gregory has done a good job with the story. I hope you have a good Holy Week. Shalom fr. Jude

1 comment:

  1. Dear Fr Jude,
    Thanks for keeping us updated on what is going on in your life and amongst the friars! And safe travels--
    I just finished listening to your CD series "The Prophets" and before that it was "Background New Testament Studies". I also have your set on Job. I'd love to get another (kids/husband said they will get me a new one for Mother's Day) but don't know which to choose. Do you ever recommend an order in which to listen to the CDs?
    Thank you and Happy Easter Season!