Monday, June 17, 2013

Ellicott City - Pittsburgh

June 17, 2013 Peace and Good, I hope you are all well. Most of this week I have been at Ellicott City, recovering from jet lag and also joining in three celebrations. The first was the feast that celebrated the feast of St. Anthony. He has been our patron saint since our foundation in 1906, and now that our province is joining to Immaculate Conception Province (these are the two East coast provinices), our name will change to Our Lady of the Angels. This was our last celebration of the Feast of St. Anthony at the patronal feast of our province. We had a wonderful Mass and meal. fr. Dennis Mason preached, and it was one of the best homilies I have ever heard. On Friday, I baptized a baby in the chapel at Ellicott City. I do not perform many baptisms with my schedule now, so it was a real joy. At this baptism and the one I celebrated on Sunday, there were a good number of non-Catholics participating. I especially like to keep everyone involved and feeling welcome. On Saturday, there was a festival at the shrine to celebrate the feast of St. Anthony. I was asked to give a talk, and the topic I presented was St. Anthony as a symbol of the new evangelization. This term, the new evangelization, means presenting the Gospel message in a new way so that the people of our days might hear and embrace it. St. Anthony taught us that the first step is our own conversion. He combined study and prayer. He spoke of the importance of the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation. He not only proclaimed the message, he became the message. After the talk, I drove to Pittsburgh where I performed another baptism for a grand-niece. It was good to see my family again. With all my travel, I don't get to see them all that often. Today I fly out to Chicago for a couple of days to visit some of our friars from one of the mid-western provinces who are on retreat these days. I don't have any official role. I will simply be there to join tham, and then be available if anyone wants to talk with me. I finished a few books: Kreuger’s Men: The Secret Nazi Counterfeit Plot and the Prisoners of Block 19 by Lawrence Malkin This is the story of how the Nazi’s tried to counterfeit the British Pound Sterling and the American Dollar during World War II. They used the skills of a number of concentration camp prisoners, including man Jews who were saved from death by this choice. They produced millions of pounds which they used for their spying operations on the continent. The pounds were of very good quality, and the Bank of England did not even admit that this had happened til lover 50 years later. The attempt to counterfeit American Dollars which were harder to produce never really got off the ground. Most of those who worked in this scheme (both prisoners and guards) escaped death. This is a good account of a little known episode during the war. Rebels at the Gate: Lee and McClellan on the Front Line of a Nation Divided by W. Hunter Lesser This is the history of the secession movement of the western counties of the State of Virginia which created the state of West Virginia. This territory was essential for the north, for a major railroad between the western states and the east ran right through it. The secession involved both political machinations and military action. The northern troops moved first and succeeded in defeating the southern forces in a number of battles on mountain tops and in the wilderness. The northern troops had to constantly watch out for bushwhackers, locals who were loyal to the southern cause who would ambush unwary northern sentries. There were often divisions of loyalty within the same family. One example of this is Stonewall Jackson whose sister staunchly supported the north. The book is well done, especially considering that most people would consider the battles in West Virginia to be “off stage” in comparison with the great battles fought between the Rapidan and Rappahanock Rivers in Virginia. John Adams: A Life by John Ferling This is an honest overview of Adam’s life. He starts as a young man from a small town with tremendous ambition. His ambition leaves his somewhat ambivalent when it comes to getting involved in politics. But between his own conscience and the promptings of his cousin, Samuel Adams, he does get involved. Interestingly, he defends the troops accused in killing Bostonians during the Boston massacre (and receives an acquittal). During the war he served the Continental Congress is arranging provisions for the army, and then together with Benjamin Franklin (whom he disliked) and Thomas Jefferson as envoys to the French court. He then served as the first ambassador to Great Britain after the peace. Returning to the United States, he first became George Washington’s vice-president, and then president for one term. He was not a very good politician. He was often irascible. He would fly off the handle, something that made some doubt his sanity. While he had been very friendly with Jefferson before and while they were in France, they had a serious political falling out during Washington’s presidency. Adams despised Alexander Hamilton as well as Thomas Paine. He was not always a good family man, all but abandoning his family to serve the revolution and the new country. As time went on, his relationship with his wife grew more and more fervent. She was a remarkable woman in her own right, and together they formed a team in a marriage that lasted 54 years. He lived many years after his presidency and eventually made peace with a number of people whom he had distanced during his political career, including Jefferson. By a remarkable coincidence, both Adams and Jefferson died on the same day, July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The biography is quite good. It gives ample detail without overwhelming one. I highly recommend it. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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