Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rome - Assisi

June 10, 2014 Peace and Good, I finished off the week in Rome at our definitory. We went all the way up to Saturday afternoon. Then that evening, we had a big celebration in the Basilica for the Vigil of the Pentecost. The local bishop led the Mass. (Rome is divided up into sectors. Even though the Pope is the Bishop of Rome, there are local auxiliary bishops as well.) The service went two hours, which was quite long. Yet, the church was packed which was nice to see. There are not a lot of people living in the immediate area around the Basilica. Most of the buildings are used as schools or offices. Thus, on Sunday, there are often not more than a handful of people at Mass in our Basilica. Last Saturday night it was full. This week the definitory is in Assisi for a series of meetings with the presidents of the various conferences and federations throughout the world. We have a representative from India, Zambia, Poland, Slovenia, Italy, the US and Argentina. This is a way to feed some of what is happening in Rome down to the grass roots level. We will be here until noon on Saturday, and then it is back to Rome for a week. It is interesting how many times in our meetings that the name of Pope Francis is mentioned. He is certainly giving all of us a challenge to be more of what we say we are. The weather here in Italy has gotten very hot. It is a bit early this year. By August, it is all but unbearable. I finished some books: The Ten Biggest Civil War Battles by Charles River Editors The Charles River Editors are a group of MIT and Boston University graduates who produce a series of informational e books on various topics. This treatment of the ten most serious battles of the Civil War is well done. It gives information on those who participated, why the battle happened, what happened during the battle, and what the aftermath of the battle was. It includes many accounts of the battle from the point of view of the participants. This whole series is well worth consideration. Coral Sea 1942 by Richard Freeman This is a short book on the battle that took place in early 1942 that, even though it was a bit of a draw between the forces of Japan and the forces of the States, at least marked the first moment at which the Japanese plans were foiled and when their momentum began to disappear. The book gives enough information to get a good picture of the battle without overwhelming one with detail. It also gives a good evaluation of how this particular battle influenced what happened in the Battle of Midway only a short time later which truly marked the turning point of the war. Samson and Denial by Robert Ford This is a novella that is part a crime story, part a horror story. The “hero” of the story discovers that his brother has been murdered by the Russian mafia. The two brothers had been involved in selling illegal drugs. He returns home to find that wife has been kidnapped by the same Mafia. He tracks down the men who did this, and along the way he comes upon an ancient Mayan skull with magical powers. It destroys his enemies, but not until he has to confront an army of angry Amazon warriors who want to kill him to protect their cultic object. The story takes a lot of twists and turns, but it is well written. Maximilian Kolbe: Saint of Auschwitz by Elain Murray Stone This is a short book that chronicles the life and career of St. Maximilian Kolbe. It gives the basic fact of his call to the Franciscan Order, his founding of the Militia of the Immaculate, the founding of the huge Franciscan friary in Niepokolanow near Warsaw, his founding of the mission in Japan, and then his arrest and death in Auschwitz. This is not a long treatment, but the author manages to tell the basic story in a very appealing manner. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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