Sunday, March 22, 2015

Rome - Frascati - Rome - Chicago - Algonquin - Libertyville

March 22, 2015 Peace and Good, This blog is for the past two weeks. In the first week, I spent time at Frascati, a town just outside of Rome (not too far from Castel Gondolfo where the Pope spends his summer). I was giving a retreat to a group of Capuchin Franciscans. There were 30 of them. Capuchins are a reform of the Franciscans dating to the 16th century. They are very similar to Conventual Franciscans in a lot of ways. Padre Pio was a Capuchin. The retreat went from Monday morning until Friday lunch. I had a really good time with the friars and was very pleased with how the retreat went. On Saturday of that week I flew out to Chicago. For the first week I was staying at our house on Kenmore Avenue, not far from the campus of Loyola University (on the north side of Chicago). I was there for a series of informal meetings with a series of friars. I had spent a lot of time in Chicago last year addressing some problems, and I was there to see how things were going. On Friday I visited a parish about an hour outside of Chicago that is run by a group of our Polish friars. It is a big parish, and the friars are doing a great job there. Yesterday I attended a workshop on one of the writings of St. Bonaventure. I don't get to go to many of these types of talks, and it was well done. I learned some key ideas about the thought of Bonaventure which will help me understand a lot of his philosophy. Then, after the talks, I moved up to our friary and shrine in Libertyville called Marytown. I will be here until Thursday to meet with any of the friars who want to talk with me. I finished some books: Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg The author of this book speak about four fish that serve as food for many people in the world: salmon, cod, sea bass, and tuna. He speaks about the over fishing which has caused their wild populations to plummet. He also speaks about the attempts to raise these fish in fish farms and what affect this has on the wild population. He offers suggestions on how to make sure that there will be wild fish in the future. Poisoned Land by Elie Batuman This is a story of a young man and his father, who is a doctor, who visits the ex countries of Yugoslavia to investigate a strange series of kidney disease. He goes through various possibilities: is it caused by poisoning caused by plants there, or by the silt left in a flood, or by genetics, or by coal seams running under the land. It turns out people who live along the river which frequently floods suffer from a much worse disease rate than those who live on the hillsides. This is true both for those born in the area and those who entered the area in recent years. It is a good story both from the travel and from the medical investigation level. Humpty Dumpty by Willow Rose This is one of four stories by a Danish author who writes in the horror literature genre. It is about a young girl who is very obese, thus receiving the name Humpty Dumpty. She comes from a family that is not all that nice. Her father abused her and her older sister. The mother knows this and does nothing, and she hates that her daughter is so not perfect. A gang of young men from a prep school plan a Freddy Krueger spree of murder and mayhem. They plan to kill her whole family. The young girl uses her telekenetic powers to protect herself and her young brother. It is sort of a cross between a possession story, Carrie and Freddie Krueger. Everything is Broken by Emma Larkin This is a story based in Myanmar, Burma. This country has been ruled by a military junta for many years. It speaks of the crackdown exercised by the government when the Buddhist monks staged opposition marches, even when this was considered to be a blasphemous action. Then, months after this, the country was hit by a horrible cyclone named Nargis. No one knows how many people were killed, but it is well over 100,000. The government refused to accept foreign assistance to help the people suffering in the delta, possibly because they were afraid of losing power. The author traces the efforts to bend the will of the military and how the people suffered throughout these months. The Age of Pericles by Jeremy McInerney This is a Teaching Company presentation on life in Athens during the Fifth century BC. This was known as the golden age of that society. The presenter is very good in his description, and he tells of the glories but also of the shortcomings of that society. On the positive side, one has the building of the temples on the Acropolis, the sculptors and poets and playwrites, the military heroes and the fight for some basic rights. On the negative side, the rights did not involve slaves, women or foreigners. As always with teaching company presentations, this series gives one a to think about. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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