Monday, June 10, 2013

Assisi - Rome - Ellicott City

June 10, 2013 Peace and Good, This has been a week of meetings. The General Definitory travelled up to Assisi for a week of meetings with the Presidents of the various conferences of friars throughout the world. The order is divided into provinces, and each geographic area (e.g. North America, Latin America, Africa, Asia, Central Europe, Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean) are organized into conferences. Each of these has a president who works together with the Assistant General of that area to organize activities and projects. Once a year, they come to Rome for a week long meeting with the General Definitory to plan for the year. This year we decided to have the meeting in Assisi to remind us of what we are all about. The meetings went very well, and it was good to see the men again. We had just finished our General Chapter at the end of February, and this meeting helped us to plan how to put into effect all of the decisions we made during the Chapter. We got to visit a couple of the local friaries as well. One of them is called Rivotorto (which literally means the meandering or crooked stream). This was the site of Francis and his followers' first dwelling, a hut in which animals were often kept. That hut, or a reproduction of it, is now kept inside of a parish church which we run. We travelled back to Rome on Saturday morning, and I flew out yesterday. The scene at the airport of Rome was chaotic. I think that they must be having work slow downs, because the last time I came into Rome there was a long, long, long line at customs control, and this time there was an even longer line at security. Fortunately, I always arrive very, very early so I can relaz at the airport before the flight. I will be in the States for a couple of week, here, in Pittsburgh and Chicago. Then it is off to Canterbury for a week. I will not be back in Rome until August 2nd. I finished a few books: The Greater Journey by David McCullough The author of this book is a famous historian who has written masterpieces upon Truman, the Panama Canal, the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, etc. I have read a number of his books and have always been satisfied. This book covers an unusual topic: the travel of Americans to Paris during the 19th century. Almost from the beginning of our nation, Americans have been fascinated by Paris and many, many have gone there to live, to study, to produce art, etc. Some of the first Americans who went there were medical students for there was hardly any organized form of medical education in the States (one was mentored by someone who claimed to be a doctor) while Paris had a highly organized form of medicine. Then there were the authors (e.g. James Fennimore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William James, etc.). There were also the artists who came to Paris to learn and perfect their trade, including John Singer Sargent, Augustus St. Gaudens, James Whistler, Mary Cassatt, etc. One of the most endearing portraits he presents is that of our ambassador to France during the Franco Prussian War: Elihu Washburne. He saved any number of lives of his own citizens as well as Frenchmen and Germans who had been working in Paris when the war began. The book is really a series of vignettes which give a wonderful sense of what Americans found and loved in this city of lights. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 by William Shirer This is a fascinating book written by William Shirer while he was a correspondent for a radio network in Berlin at the beginning of World War II. He is there until December of 1940, and he described what he knows of what is going on in the totalitarian state that Hitler created. He describes the lives of the Germans around him and how they believe the great lie dished out by the state. He is the author of the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. The book is well done, and reads as an adventure which happens to be a true story. The Camel Club by David Baldacci The Camel Club is an organization in Washington D.C. which is composed of what society would consider to be a group of losers, but who nevertheless are able to ferret out the truth about a conspiracy against the government by some members of the administration. This includes Muslim terrorists as well as North Korean operatives. The book is well written and an enjoyable read. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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