Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chicago, IL - Savannah, GA - Mishawaka, IN - Mt. St. Francis, IN - Mesilla Park, NM

July 29, 2014 Peace and Good, This has been a good, travelling week. I started out in Chicago and flew down to Savannah, Georgia to visit with one of our bishops, Bishop Gregory Hartmayer. Savannah is a beautiful city, and I could not believe how many tourists there were at this time of year. It is very, very hot now, and humid, but the place was packed. Bishop Gregory told me that a lot of it is the Art Institute in the City. It is a large institution that draws students from all over the country, and their relatives come down to visit them, etc. That spreads the word of how beautiful the city is, and so on. The city was very clever. When it had buildings that it had taken over due to a tax bill, it would give the building to the Art Institute to take over and run. They would fix the building up and use it as part of their extended campus. This kept the buildings in good shape, and it helped the institute which is spread out all over the city. On Tuesday evening I flew into South Bend to visit our novitiate in Mishawaka. I flew Delta and I was very impressed. My flight to Detroit was running late, and by the time I got to the airport, they had already booked me on an alternate flight so that I could make my connections. On Wednesday I gave a day of recollection on Franciscan leadership to the members of the definitory of St. Bonaventure Province. I gave a couple of talks and opened it up to their sharing. It turned out very well. On Thursday evening we had the investiture of the new novices. They come from the US, Australia and Great Britain. It is great to see them in their habits. I had met most of them when they were postulants (which is a year or two of probation to try out the life). Novitiate is one step further in the discernment process. On Friday morning we had the temporary profession for the novices from last year. They take their vows for a trial period of three years. Then we drove down to Mt. St. Francis for the night (over four hours of travel). Early the next morning we flew down to El Paso, the closest airport to the retreat house in Mesilla Park. I managed to leave my computer at the TSA security control at the airport in Louisville. The TSA was great, and one of the friars flying down on Sunday was able to pick it up for me, so it wasn't all that much of a problem. We began the chapter for Our Lady of Consolation Province yesterday morning. The first part is small group discussions which doesn't involve me. I am on call from this afternoon on. We finish on Thursday afternoon, and then I fly out to Buffalo on Friday for the last chapter this summer. I finished some books: Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox This is a biography of the Canadian actor Michael J. Fox. It is well written, and the audio version is read by Fox himself. He describes his acting career. He is not afraid to speak of his demons, especially times when low self-esteem led to binge drinking. He deals at length with his discovery and dealing with early on-set Parkinson Disease. This is not a self-pity book. Rather, it is an honest portrayal of someone who did the best he could with a trauma that threw him for a loop. His dealing with his commitment to his family is heart warming. Whirlwind: War in the Pacific: Pearl Harbour, Coral Sea and Midway by Richard Freeman This is an account of the first three major battles between the Japanese Empire and the United States Navy during World War II. The first battle, Pearl Harbour, was an unmitigated disaster for the US. The only positive things that could be said is that the Japanese had not caught the aircraft carries in the harbor and they failed to destroy the fuel storage areas which would have forced the fleet to flee to California for months. The second battle occurred some five months later as the Japanese tried to invade Port Moresby in New Guinea. The battle was a bit of a draw, if not an actual loss for the US. Yet, it put an end to the Japanese plan to blocade the route from the US to Australia. It also damaged some ships that otherwise might have been used at Midway. Finally, the battle of Midway was an incredible victory for the US. One US carrier was sunk to four Japanese carriers. The account presented in the book is thorough without being too detailed. The author has a very good writing style. Early Judaism: A Comprehensive Overview, edited by John J. Collins and Daniel Harlow This is a series of articles on the development of Jewish identity at the end of the Old Testament period up until the time of the rebellions (the great rebellion in 67-70 AD, the rebellion in the Diaspora in 112-115 AD, and the Bar Kochba rebellion in 132-135 AD). This time period and topic parallels the Teaching Company course that I have been listening to, and it is interesting to compare and contrast the approaches. This version, of course, allows for a much more in depth study of the topic. The book is well compiled and offers a wealth of information, but it is more for a scholar than for an easy read. The Age of Gold by Gore Vidal This is a short epic of a newspaper family dynasty from the beginning of the Roosevelt era until the end of the millennium. It speak of the relationships within the family and how they interacted with political figures such as Roosevelt, McCarthy, Truman, etc. Gore Vidal even puts himself into the story as a character who occasionally shows up. The premise and the question is whether there ever was a golden age in American history and culture. The characters end up leaving the question unanswered. It is really quite well done. Vidal writes characters who one does not necessarily like or admire, but whom one certainly wants to know more about. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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