Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rome - Staten Island - Rome

December 11, 2013 Peace and Good, This has been a strange week. Most of it was spent sitting in a Room during our definitory meeting. Then, on Saturday I flew out to London, on Sunday to Staten Island, and then back again on Monday night. First of all, during the week we have been meeting with all of the staff for the organization of the Order. There are offices for those who work with the Secular Franciscans, the Militia of Mary Immaculate, Formation, the Economy, our representative with the Vatican, etc. We do this once a year to make sure we are all on the same page. Then in the evening we celebrated the novena in preparation for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The preacher this year was quite good. Last year I said that the preacher did not say anything wrong, but it didn't change my heart in any way. This year fr. Rafaele, the spiritual director of the Militia Immacolata, did a fine job. I wanted to listen to what he was saying. We invite a different cardinal each evening and the assistants end up concelebrating one of the evenings. The cardinal with whom I concelebrated was the head of the Office of Saints. I was impressed with the cardinals this year as well. Last year I wondered where some of them had learned to celebrate the Mass. This year they were all devout and yet not plastic. Cardinal Turkson, who studied with some of our friars in the States, was one of the celebrants. On Saturday I flew off the London. I just managed to get there. There was a huge problem with the air traffic control system in Great Britain and mine was the only flight from Rome to London to get off the ground. Then on Sunday I flew out to Staten Island and landed just before the snow arrived from the big storm on the East Coast. Monday there was a celebration in Staten Island for the province of the Immaculate Conception. This is the feast of their patron, and it was the last time they celebrated it because next May they are united with St. Anthony Province and taking the new name of Our Lady of the Angels. I found out this morning that one of the friars present at the celebration passed away later that evening. He did not look well at all, but I was still surprised by this news. Monday night I flew back to Rome and arrived home around 8 PM. I actually don't feel all that bad considering all the travel. I think that I didn't stay in the States long enough to get bad jet lag coming back home. I finished some books: Bake Sale Murder by Leslie Meier This is the story of a small town reporter in Maine who tries to solve the murder of one of her neighbors. In the process, she and her family are put in danger. The characterization is not all that deep, but the story goes along well enough and is entertaining. Agent 6 (The Child 44 Trilogy) by Tom Rob Smith This is the second of Tom Rob Smith’s books that I have read. He tells the story of a former KGB man who is desperate to solve and revenge the murder of his wife. The murder takes place in New York, a city that he could never hope to visit (for in the 1960’s, former KGB agents were never allowed permission to leave the country. The plot is quite complicated. He ends up in Afghanistan from which he finds a way to defect to the United States. I like Smith’s characterization of the inhumanity of much of the secret police culture of the old Soviet Union. He shows how good people or people who simply did not want to be evil struggled to keep a moral bearing in the midst of official insanity and cruelty. His writing is very, very good, but reading the book can be painful as one confront institutional evil at its worse. The Vikings by Robert Wernick This is a short treatment of the history of the Vikings. Wernick explains why there was a sudden eruption of Vikings raiding Western and Eastern Europe. He gives two reasons: a population explosion caused by a better diet due to a warming period in northern Europe, and a dissatisfaction with the rise of imperial power among the leaders of the various lands – especially the establishment of monarchies. He portrays the Vikings both a ferocious warriors and clever traders. He speaks of their gradual expansion to the Oarkneys and the Faroes and then to Iceland, Greenland and even North America. Then he speaks about the decline of Viking power, one could almost say the domestication of the Vikings. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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