Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sydney (Springvale and Dingley) - Melbourne (Kellyville)

October 27, 2013 Peace and Good, I am drawing my canonical visitation of the Australian Delegation to a close. I have met with all of the friars who are now stationed in Australia. I will meet with a few along the road (Chicago, Rome and we will have to see about Brussels). It has been a good visit. This is one of the better parts of my job - to spend time talking with friars to see how things are going, to offer a piece of advice, to encourage them in the good work that they are doing. One of the things that we especially need to do for the Australian friars is to bring a few friars over here from other jurisdictions. This will help with man power issues but also give a little more of a mix to group of friars serving here. It is always good to have variety and different points of view. That is difficult to obtain here because the numbers of low and they are so far from the other jurisdictions. A number of friars from Australia have also been visiting (for shorter and longer periods of time) other jurisdictions. I see real signs of hope. I am especially impressed by the work being done at the Shrine of the Holy Innocents here in Kellyville. It is only open a few months, and already there are a good group of people coming to daily Mass and devotions. The center is starting to be used for spiritual events such as day retreats. I think that this will become a real gem over time. Tomorrow I head out to Chicago. This is my feast day, and because I will be crossing the International Date Line, I will get to celebrate it twice. Of course, celebrating it in an airplane is not exactly my idea of a big party, but you've got to take what you can get. I finished some reading: Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family’s Feuds by Lyndall Gordon This is both the story of Emily Dickinson, the hermit of Amherst and the famous poet of the 19th century, and also of the fight for the rights to her works after her death. She published hardly anything while she lived, but she left hundreds of poems and letters when she died. Her life seems to have been colored by the epilepsy that she probably suffered. She formed a tight bond with her brother Austen’s wife Susan. She then stood up for Susan’s rights when he entered into a torrid love affair with a Mabel Todd, a married woman (whose husband also participated in numerous affairs). After Dickinson’s death, Mabel Todd became the copyist and editor of editions of Dickinson’s poetry which slowly became more and more popular. Austen’s other sister Lavinia fought Mabel in court for the rights to some land which had been signed over to her (possibly as payment for the work done on Dickinson’s poetry). Even though most of the story takes place in the Victorian era, it reads like a messy soap opera. The Naked Gardener by LB Gschwandthner This was one of those books that I picked up on sale from Amazon. How could you not be interested in it given its unusual title? It is a book about a woman who lives with a man in a committed relationship. She is an artist, he a professor. They winter in Virginia and summer on an old farm in New Hampshire. The book explores questions of commitment, of expectations, of fears, of relationship (especially with other women), of responsibility to the past while not allowing oneself to be imprisoned in it. The title comes from the fact that the woman actually gardens naked (in a garden which is far from peeping eyes). It is a symbol of her quest for freedom, but by the end of the book she realizes that total freedom exacts a price. Overall, it is well written. Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis This is exactly what this book is. It is not an ordered, comprehensive presentation on the psalms. Rather, it is a series of thoughts on various difficult aspects of the psalms, such as the cursing psalms or the self-righteous attitude found in other psalms. I especially appreciated his chapter on praise in the psalms, a topic about which I have been reflecting for some time. As with other Lewis writings, he is often quite original and at the very least he makes one think. The Franciscan Tradition (Spirituality in History) by Regis Armstrong This is an anthology of writings produced by members of the First, Second and Third Orders of St. Francis from the time of the founding of the orders up until the recent times. Each of the sections gives a short biography of the person involved and some background information about the times in which that person wrote. There are also the rules for each of the three orders (including that for the religious communities which follow the Third Order, for while most third orders are only lay people, the Franciscan Third Order actually has two branches: lay people and female and male religious communites). The selections and overview is well presented. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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