Monday, February 17, 2014

Chicago - Dearborn Heights (Detroit) - Chicago - Peoria

February 17, 2014 Peace and Good, This past week has been a series of meetings with commissions and then with the friars throughout the Mid-Western province. This will continue all throughout this week until Friday when I head down to Australia for some more meetings. This is all in preparation for their provincial chapter that will take place this coming summer. My job is to evaluate what is going on and to provide an outside view to the friars of the various jurisdictions on what needs some more attention. A lot of the views I offer are simply suggestions and they can be accepted or rejected according to the judgment of the local friars. There are a lot of ways to live out life style, and it is not that some are right or wrong just because they are different. However, once in a while, I have to point out that some things are just not compatible with what we have promised to live. Those are not always easy moments for me. None of us likes confrontation, and my natural style is to live and let live. Yet, I have to be careful not to let my own feelings and preferences get in the way lest I perform my responsibilities in a way that does not help the friars to live their commitment. Fortunately, I work with a group of men who are very supportive. Furthermore, I find that if I spend the time to explain why things are happening (even if it takes a long time), then it is time well spent. The weather out here in the Mid-west continues to be challenging. I was supposed to fly into Chicago yesterday and stay there until this morning when I would drive down to Peoria. There was a prediction of snow and sleet in this area today, so I drove right from the airport. That is turning out to be the right decision. Tomorrow morning we have a meeting, and then off to Chicago for another two meetings. I have finished some books: One Seed Sown: Book Two of Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Sally Haggard This is the second short volume of a four book series on the Duchess of York, Cicily. She lived during the 15th century and her two sons eventually became kings of England after a long and bloody civil war. In this volume we hear about her infidelity with an unknown knight who fathered her oldest boy. This was eventually an accusation made against her and the reason for the murder of her two grandsons, the sons of that child. Whether it was a true accusation or not is impossible to determine. The book is not badly written. Twenty-six and One and Other Stories by Maxim Gorky I like Gorky’s writing. It is very descriptive and he tells the reader about people and topics that one would not find in other books. There are three stories in this volume. The first involves a group of twenty-six bakers who work in near slave like conditions. They idolize a young woman who visits each day for some of their biscuits. The second story is about two men who row a boat out to a ship to steal a bolt of silk. The third story is about a married man who is having an affair with a woman, and how his son also falls in love with her. There is a sadness and hopelessness in many of his stories which would be what many of the poor and down on their luck people about whom he writes would have felt. The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman I read this book a number of years, but it is so good I decided to read it once again. It speaks about the beginning of World War I, including the invasion of Belgium and France by Germany and the invasion of Germany by Russia. When this book was first published in 1962, it received critical acclaim. President John Kennedy was said to have been reading it during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was so impressed how the First World War began without much thought, just a series of foolish blunders after another that he made a special effort to insure that our country would not fall into that trap. This book was well worth another reading, and I enjoyed it just as much this time as the first. Fleeing Hitler: France 1940 by Hanna Diamond This is the story of how many refugees from Belgium and France fled the approaching Nazi forces during World War II. They were totally unprepared for what they met on the roads. It was not infrequent for their cars and wagons to be machine gunned from airplanes passing overhead. They helped throw the defending troops into confusion. They arrived at towns ill prepared to welcome them. They only slowly were allowed to return home by French Vichy forces and the Nazi’s now in charge. The book well expresses the confusion, feelings of betrayal, and especially the despair of those who fled. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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