Monday, January 19, 2015

Rome - Santa Severa - Rome

January 19, 2015 Peace and Good, I hope that you are all well. I arrived back in Rome, and then the General Definitory headed out to a retreat house near the sea at a place called Santa Savera for our annual retreat. The preacher was Fr. Marco Rubnic, a Jesuit and an artist. He runs a school for sacred art and also an institute that studies the Fathers of the Church from the first 1,000 years of Christianity. He was very, very good. There were some things he said with which I did not agree, but at least he provoked a reaction. I found that he gave me words and concepts to name some of the things I have felt and believed for a long time. It was a silent retreat, and that was actually easier for me to do than I would have thought. It meant that I could dedicate myself to the Lord totally for a week. Yesterday we had a meeting at the Capuchin Curia here in Rome. It was their definitory, ours, and that of the Friars Minor. The historic differences between us are slowly melting away, which is a real good thing. I am back in Rome for a little more than a week. The new provincials and provincial secretaries of the Order are in town for a workshop on what they are called to do over these next years. There are five men in from the States and I am hosting them, so it will be busy for the next few days. Next week I head out to Atlanta and then to El Salvador. I have finished some reading: C.S. Lewis, a Life Inspired by Christopher by Christopher Gordon This is a short and well written biography of C.S. Lewis, the apologist for Christianity from Great Britain during the middle of the 20th century. His writings include the Screwtape Letters, the Four Loves, Mere Christianity and the Great Divorce. He also authored the Narnia cycle which has become so popular again in recent days. His style, unlike that of Chesterton, is pleasant and reasonable. He is a good author who tried to be a good man and mostly succeeded. The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams This is a series of essays and stories that were compiled from the writings of Adams after his sudden death. He is the author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe. He is very clever, and I found myself amused by much of what he wrote. He is a confirmed and militant atheist. His argument is that the logic used to prove the existence of God is faulty, and therefore God does not exist and anyone who believes that God exist is not only mistaken but a fool. Admittedly, some who argue the issue from the other side use equally aggressive arguments, but I find the conclusion that since he is not convinced, then everyone must be convinced of his point of view to be a bit arrogant. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation of the rest of the material. The Diabolical Conspiracy by Byran Smith A man is invited to a party by his girlfriend, and it turns out to be a Satanic coven to which he is being invited. The problem is that there are only two choices: join or die. Furthermore, to join, he must murder a man who is brought into their midst. The rest of the story tells of the choices that he must make, none of them good or redeeming. The Mad Tea-Party: The Adventures of Ellery Queen This is the last of the stories about Ellery Queen, the detective, in the collection that I have been reading, and possibly the best. Queen shows up at a friend’s mansion where they are practicing a scene from Louis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass. There is a disappearance that might be a murder. There is a mass drugging of all who are at the mansion. There are a series of packages left at the front door that leave everyone confused and frightened. The story is well developed. Onward: How Starbucks fought for its Life without Losing its Soul by Howard Schultz with Joanne Gordon This is the account of how the founder of Starbucks came out of retirement and took over the company again during the worldwide economic downturn in 2008. Even in the middle of the downturn, he was able to turn the fate of Starbucks around and make a profit without sacrificing its values (e.g. taking care of the associates, of the farmers, etc.). He spoke of how the company had been obsessed with growth and sacrificed quality. He spoke of being a cheerleader to improve the way coffee was brewed and how the customer was treated. He is a little too self-congratulatory, but he tells a good story. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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