Saturday, April 11, 2015

Rome - Melbourne - Sydney

April 12, 2015 Peace and Good, I hope you are all well. I spend Holy Week at home in Rome. Holy Monday we had a quick meeting of our definitory to take care of pending business. Then the rest of the week I spent participating in the services in the Basilica and also working on some taping and writing projects. I headed out on Easter Sunday afternoon to fly to Australia to visit our friars there. This was not an official trip, simply a visit to see how things are going. There has been an influx of new blood of friars from the US (which has taken forever because their visa applications dragged on and on). They will be meeting in assembly in June to talk about the present and the future. I, unfortunately, will not be able to be there, so this was a good time to stop and see and listen. I started out in Melbourne where we have two friaries. Then I moved on to Sydney. Unfortunately, I came down with food poisoning (most probably from a restaurant where we had lunch before I left Melbourne). Fortunately, I carry a supply of antibiotics with me because I end up with food poisoning at least once a year with all the travel that I do. This time it really laid me low for a couple of days, but today I feel well enough to continue on my journey back to Rome. I finished some books: The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O’Connor This is the title for a painting that was produced by Gustav Klimt and which became the symbol for the cosmopolitan, avant guarde culture of pre-war Vienna. The woman painted, Adele Bloch Bauer, was a Jewish society woman with very liberal attitudes. The book covers first the society in which she and Kilmt lived. I then deals with what happened to Adele Bloch Bauer’s family and friends after the takeover by the Nazi’s. Finally, it deals with the attempt of the family of Bloch Bauer to recover the painting from a museum in Vienna, an attempt that dragged on for years. I Claudius by Robert Graves This is a fictional account of the emperor Claudius, the successor of the mad emperor Caligula, and the predecessor of the equally mad emperor Nero. Claudius was considered to be a nobody in the family of the Caesars. He had a speech impediment and was somewhat crippled. Caligula used him as a court fool, which probably saved his life for many of the other royal family members were killed when Caligula thought of them as rivals. We hear of how Claudius’ own mother hated him, and we hear of the machinations of the widow of Augustus Caesar, Livia. The book is well written, and was the source of a PBS series a number of years ago. Straight into Darkness by Faye Kellerman This is the story of a series of murders in Munich, Germany right before Hitler takes power in Germany The police officer who must investigate the murders is caught up in the craziness of the times. Jewish people are murdered without any compunction, and Jewish people are blamed even when it is clear that they had nothing to do with it. The officer tries to keep out of this, but it is impossible and he has to make choices that leave him and his entire family in danger. It is a well written account of a very confusing time. Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic by Steven Berlin Johnson This tells the story of an outbreak of cholera in one part of the city of London during the 19th century. Many people supposed that it was vapors coming from burial grounds so some other airborne contagion that was causing the disease. A doctor and a clergyman were able to disprove this theory and show that it was actually contaminated water that caused the disease, tracing this particular outbreak to the water in one well (which, ironically, was considered to be one of the best water wells in the city). Johnson then speaks of how this discovery allowed for the continued growth of cities, and he deals with the dangers that face large cities today from disease, terrorism, etc. The Rise of Rome by Anthony Everitt This is the masterful treatment of how the city of Rome, a small insignificant hill town in the 8th century BC, went on to become the greatest empire that the world has ever seen. One sees the growth of the republic, which was really an oligarchy. One sees how Rome conquered its enemies first near and then far. One also sees how the organization of the republic eventually led to its downfall in civil war due to the outsized personalities of a number of its politicians. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


Post a Comment