Thursday, December 25, 2014

Dublin - Rome

December 25, 2014 Merry Christmas I returned to Rome after a visit with two Indian friars working in Ireland. I have to admit that Dublin was rainy and windy. I saw the sun for about 15 second one day. This past week I have been back in Rome. There were no meetings. Praise be God! I was able to catch up on some of my writing. I manages to finish four articles for the Messenger magazine printed in Padua and another three for the Crusader magazine printed in Great Britain. This puts me a few months ahead of time. I will be travelling to Great Britain later this afternoon and spend the night there, and then fly on to Toronto tomorrow. My brother and sister-in-law will pick me up and I’ll spend a week with family and friends in Buffalo. Then on the 2nd I’ll fly down to Baltimore and spend a week with the friars. This will finish off my vacation time for this past year. It was a busy summer with all of the provincial chapters and I was not able to take any time off then. I finished some books: To Catch a King by Jack Higgins This is the author who has written a series of spy novels about World War II and the IRA. His writing style is very good. This one is about the attempt to kidnap or convince to defect of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the resigned king of England while he is staying in Lisbon. The Nazi’s hope that they can use him as an alternative monarch when they conquer Great Britain after the fall of France. There are a couple of Americans who help to foil the plot along with a very honest leader of the Portuguese police. The most intriguing figure is one of the Abwar officers, General Schellenburg, who is real life was described as a decent person (something one sees in this plot). It is a very good book. France under Louis XIV and the Regency by James Perkins This is the story of the rule of King Louis XIV of France, the Sun King, and of the period that followed his reign which was governed by the Duke of Orleans until Louis’ grandson reached the age to take over himself. The early part of Louis’ reign and that of the Duke were marked by rampant sexual immorality. That changed toward the end of Louis’ reign due to the influence of his second wife. There are stories of the various wars that Louis fought, often for purposes that did not measure up to the loss of life and treasure. There was the story of the Mississippi plot, a type of pyramid scheme, which brought on an economic disaster in the kingdom. The book is well written, but long and often too detailed. The Publisher by Alan Brinkley This is the story of Harry Luce, the founder of the Time Life empire. He initiated Time, Life, Fortune and Sports Illustrated. He was the son of missionaries in China, which explained his continual concern for his beloved country (and his rampant anti-communism). He proved to be a difficult, lonely man, but he accomplished so much in his lifetime. His second wife was Clare Booth Luce, the ambassador to Italy in the 50’s. Both he and she preached a moral life style while both slept around with numerous lovers. The story is worth telling, but you end up not especially liking Luce. The Glass-Domed Clock: The Adventures of Ellery Queen As always, Ellery Queen, the detective, is able to sort out the murder of a man who seems to have left clues as to the identity of his murderer. The man, after he was struck, grasped a glass domed clock and a particular semi-precious gem (seeming to identify the murderer by his job – a stock brocker for the clock looked like a stock ticker and by his birthdate – the stone he was grasping was a birthstone). The Mad Sculptor: the Maniac, the Model, and the Murder that Shook the Nation by Harold Schechter In the 1920’s, crime stories were the fad. There were many magazines that printed the accounts of grizzly murders. The tabloids used as much print in those days for crime as they do today for celebrities. This is the story of a sculptor who was mentally unbalanced and who killed the mother and sister of a woman for whom he had an infatuation as well as a male border who lived in their apartment. The details of the story are gruesome, which made the story all that more appealing to the public. Have a good week and also Happy New Year. Shalom Fr. Jude


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