Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dublin - Wexford - Dublin - Barton - London - Rome

May 26, 2013 Peace and Good, Yes, I visited all of those places in just one week. I have been on planes or trains most of that time. We had out meeting for friars in Ireland in Wexford which is on the south coast. We take care of a shrine church which is situated between two huge diocescan parishes. The people love the friars for confessions and spiritual direction. The next day I had off and I did some writing but I also visited Dublin. It is not a big city, but there is more than enough to see. The only problem was that the weather was not all that good. It was cold and rainy most of the time. A group of us then flew to Manchester and two of us stayed at Barton for the night (just outside of Manchester). This used to be the novitiate, and it is being used for prining a magazine that the friars distribute free of charge. They receive enough donations to pay for the magazine and then some. Friday evening I took the Virgin Train to London (the same company that owns Virgin Atlantic). When I booked the ticket, it cost 74 pounds for a 2nd class ticket and 51 pounds for a first class ticket. I kept looking at the screen to make sure I was reading it right. Sure enough, that is what it was. There was hardly anyone in the first class car, so that must be why they put it on sale. It was a beautiful ride into London, a little over two hours long. Everyone in England was very shocked at the brutal murder of the soldier on the street. It must be similar to what the Bostonians felt after the bombs during the Marathon. I do not know why the networks insisted repeating the murderers rant over and over again. This is exactly what he wanted, the publicity. Then Saturday I flew back to Rome. The weather is much, much better here. Tomorrow we start our meetings which will go all week long here in Rome, and then we move up to Assisi for another week of meetings. I finished a few books: The Book of Genesis by Professor Gary Rendsburg The is one of the teaching company’s courses. Rendsburg is a Rabbi, and it is always interesting for me to hear how books of the Old Testament are interpreted by Jewish scholars. It just a whole different perspective. He deals with the text as it is found (and does not speak of various sources which went into the composition of the book). Some of his literary insights are brilliant. I am not sure about some of his historic suppositions (e.g. the date of Abraham the patriarch, the date of Joseph going down to Egypt). He is thoroughly familiar with the Hebrew text, so he can notice various allusions and alliterations that we miss in our English translations. Overall, this was a very good course. The Retreat by Michael Jones This is a historical account of the retreat of the Nazi forces who were investing Moscow at the beginning of December, 1941. They thought that they had thoroughly defeated the forces of the Soviet Union, but Stalin and Marshall Zuchov had been secreting a number of fresh divisions (newly formed and those brought from Siberia) to launch an offensive against the Germans when they were most fully extended. The offensive was incredibly successful, pushing the German back many, many miles with horrendous casualties and incredible losses of material. It could have almost ended the war if the Soviets had not themselves overreached allowing the Germans the time that they needed to launch a counteroffensive. Complicating this all was the Russian winter for which the Germans were woefully unprepared (although they had been fully warned long in advance). Their machines wouldn’t work, their canons and machine guns would not fire, the men suffered from frostbite, etc. This book also outlines the almost bestial attitudes of the Germans and the Russians toward each other and even toward civilians and prisoners. The book is well written, but it is a painful subject. Absolute Friends by John Le Carre Like most of Le Carre’s books, this is quite well done. It tells the story of two men, one the son of a cashiered army officer and the other the son of a German pastor who come to know each other in Berlin during the Cold War era. In the early years, they both work on peaceful anarchist projects to fight the imperialist powers, but especially the US. Later, Ted (the Brit) and Sasha (the German) join forces to spy against the government of East Germany. The books carries them along into the post cold war period when they become involved in a strange, potentially dangerous plot. The personalities of the two men characters are well developed, and even though they are both deeply flawed, one can’t help liking them. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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