Monday, September 30, 2013

Copertino - Rome - Los Angeles

September 30, 2013 The Feast of St. Jerome Peace and Good, The feast of St. Jerome is a special day for those of us who study Sacred Scripture. He is the man in the 4th and 5th centuries AD who translated the Bible from its original languages into Latin (for that was the language used by many of the Christians at that time). He so loved Sacred Scripture that he found a rabbi in the Holy Land who would teach him Hebrew. Now there is one other attribute of Jerome. He was a grumpy old man. If one reads his various letter, one can be shocked at how nasty he is in his attacks of others, including St. Augustine. It always reminds me that saints are not necessarily perfect. They had talents and used them, and ultimately they did the best they could with what they had. We finished off our definitory in Copertino on Thursday evening and drove back to Rome on Friday. Then on Saturday we had a one day meeting there to close off some issues that needed closure. Sunday I flew out to Los Angeles to give a retreat to the friars of St. Joseph Cupertino Province out here. I will start the retreat this evening. Hopefully, I will not fall asleep on them. There is a nine hour time difference between here and Rome. I just heard this morning that the canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II will occur on the same day this coming year: Divine Mercy Sunday, which is the Sunday after Easter. Rome will be packed, packed, packed. I finished some books: Old Town by Lin Zhe and George Fowler This is the story of a family in China over the period of the early 20th century to the present day. We hear about their struggles for survival, especially during the Second World War and the days of the Cultural Revolution in Communist China. The grandfather and grandmother are Christians, and we hear how they first welcome the communists to get rid of the corrupt government governing China and because they would help the poor. Only slowly do they realize how difficult it would be for Christians to practice their faith under the communists. We hear of the relationships in the family that color the entire life of this couple. The narrator is one of their granddaughters, and we hear from her the emptiness of life without faith. The book is well written. It is quite long, but well worth the effort to get a glimpse into life in China. Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 by David M Kennedy This is an enormous project to give a detailed history of the years of the depression and the entire World War II. Kennedy gives a good, thorough account. There were some fascinating details, especially about the depression, that I had never heard. I had always understood that Herbert Hoover did hardly anything, but when one understands what was going on and what the theories were that tried to explain the depression, one can see that he did his best. Unfortunately, the situation was so disastrous that this was just not enough. We see FDR foundering to find a response to the situation. He came up with some quick fixes, but these did not really end the depression. In fact, the only thing that ended the depression was the industrial upturn when World War II began. What FDR did give was some guarantees for the normal person, including Federal Insurance for bank accounts, unemployment insurance, laws against child labor, farm subsidies, etc. In some ways, the depression was needed for the country to experiment with new techniques of manipulating the economy. The book is very good, but also very long. Decision at Sea: Five Naval Battles that Shaped American History by Edward Rutherfurd This is an account of five pivotal naval battles fought by the United States throughout its history. They are the battle on Lake Erie during the War of 1812, the battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac during the Civil war, the battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish American War, the Battle of Midway during the Second World War and the battle during the Iran-Iraq War in the Persian Gulf to keep shipping open. Each of the wars represented a technological advance over the other, but each was also marked by tremendous courage and even luck. This is a good overview of the theme. The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii by Jack London These are stories about the period of Hawaii’s history right after it was annexed by the United States. A good number of the stories involve the plague of leprosy and the fate of the lepers, being sent to Molokai for the rest of their lives. We hear about the right Americans, descendants of both the Protestant missionaries (who then became fabulously wealthy) and of the traders. We hear of the Hawaii’s who were made second and third class citizens in their own homeland. London gives a good sense of the racial tensions of the islands in those years, and some of the racial blending. The stories are well written, and often convey the hypocrisy of the Americans and the tragedy of some of the injustices done to the natives. The book is well worth reading. I hope you have a good week. A number of people have asked for my prayers in these weeks (I can't publish the needs). Could you please join me in praying for them and their needs. Shalom fr. Jude


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