Friday, August 8, 2014

Mesilla PArk, New Mexico - Buffalo, New York

August 8, 2014 Peace and Good, Last week I was down in New Mexico for the provincial chapter of Our Lady of Consolation Province. They range from Minnesota to Ohio to New Mexico. The chapter went very well. It took place at their retreat center, and it was the first time that a number of friars were able to visit the new friary at the center. The friars are also building a new chapel which is already well advanced. Both of these structures were brilliantly designed to match the architectural style of the Southwest. This province is very committed to expanding their outreach to various jurisdictions of the Order to foster an intercultural dialog. It was hot and rainy down there. The night before I flew out there was a rain of two and a half inches in a little over an hour. They have been having a drought down there, but unfortunately the ground is so dried out that there is a crust on the surface and it is difficult for the rain to soak in. Friday I flew up to Buffalo and visited family for a couple of days. Then, on Monday, we began the provincial chapter of the new province of Our Lady of the Angels. This is my home province, and there were 146 friars present for the chapter. We had a number of organizational tasks to care for to help organize the new province. This included pastoral decision of where the friars will be serving over the next four years. We finished up this morning, and I will fly out tomorrow to head to Los Angeles for the night, and then on to Manila where I will be giving some talks to the friars. I finished the following books: The Ghost by Robert Harris This is the story of a ghost author who has been contracted to write the biography of an ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain. The Prime Minister left his office during a crisis which involved Great Britain’s attitude toward the U.S. He was accused of being a tool of the American administration. The ghost author is brought in to take the place of another ghost author who died or was killed. The ghost finds out some things he was not supposed to know, and his life as well is put into great danger. The book is very well written and draws one into the plot very quickly. Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell George Orwell, the author of Animal Farm and 1984, went to Spain during the Spanish Civil War. He fought for the anarchists in the area around Barcelona. We hear of the pitiful battle that they fought against the Fascists led by Franco. We also hear of the cruel intrigue among the various leftist groups in Barcelona. The communists took over and persecuted the very people who should have been their allies. This experience led to Orwell’s disillusionment with the communist cause and led to his writing those two books which were a powerful condemnation of the big lie which was the basis of the totalitarian state. Orwell’s sympathies lie with those who truly fought for a classless society, which he considered to be a noble cause. The Last Day: Wrath, Ruin and Reason in the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 by Nicholas Shrady This is the story of one of the greatest natural disasters in the 18th century: the destruction of Lisbon, Portugal, by a tremendous earthquake. The disaster was actually a combination of a huge earthquake, a tsunami that killed many of the people who had fled to the shore, and a fire which killed many of the people trapped in the ruins. At least one tenth of the population was killed, maybe as much as a quarter. The tremendous optimism of the enlightenment authors was crushed, while many of the people who were faithful to Catholicism were confused for Lisbon was one of the most Catholic, faithful cities in Europe. We hear of how pathetic the reaction of the monarchy was, while a natural leader, the Count of Pambal, came forward. When the king asked him what to do, he answered that he should bury the dead and feed the living. He proceeded to do that, as well as reconstruct Lisbon as a model city. We also hear of the earlier days of Lisbon as well as its subsequent days. The book is well done and very much worth reading. Hitler’s Pre-Emptive War: The Battle for Norway, 1940 by Henrik Lunde This is an extensive account of the invasion of Norway by the Nazi’s during World War II. It was not clear that Hitler wanted to invade. He was busy with his preparations for the battle with France. Yet, he felt that Great Britain might blockade his needed iron ore which was shipped from Sweden through Norway. So Hitler sent his troops north. The allies replied with a half hearted effort that often seemed wrong footed. They managed to pluck defeat from the mouth of victory, the exact opposite of what they would do later in the war. The book itself is horribly detailed and leaves one wishing that he didn’t know exactly which brigade was where at any particular moment. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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