Sunday, May 31, 2015

London - Canterbury - London - Rome

June 1, 2015 Peace and Good, I spent most of last week in England. When I arrived on Sunday, I arranged to meet with two Maltese friars who are working there and living at our friary at Waterloo. This was in preparation for their provincial chapter which will take place in September of this year. The friars are recently arrived. Malta is a small island, and they cannot afford to have many of the specialized medicines available on the island itself. Thus, the government sends those who need special care to London. There are about 60 per month, and almost all of the Maltese are Catholics. Therefore, the government also pays for two Catholic chaplains to address the spiritual need of these people while they are in treatment in London. The OFM friars (who wear the brown habit) were the chaplains until last year. As of the new year, we were asked to take over this responsibility. The two friars who are doing this are young and energetic. It is great to see them so involved in this good work. I also took a trip to Canterbury to visit our Franciscan International Study Centre there. I taught there for a number of terms before I was transferred to Rome. fr. Tom Reist from my province has been the president of the study centre for the past few years. When he took over, it was dying quickly. He has managed to direct a turn around and it is now quite healthy. It offers three certificate programs: spiritual direction, Franciscan Studies and Franciscan Formation. I am hopeful that it now will have a chance. On Friday I flew back to Rome. I am here for a few days and then will scoot over to Romania for an anniversary celebration of their province. I taught in their theology institute when it was first opened after Communism ended there, and so I know almost all the friars in the province. Then this coming Sunday it is back to the States for my annual 50,000 check up with doctors and the dentist. I finished some books: The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming There were five young men who studied at Cambridge during the 30’s who acquired important positions in the British government during and after the war who turned out to be Soviet spies. This book proposes that there was actually a sixth who was a British double agent. Furthermore, this leads an academic investigator to a secret that neither the British Secret Service nor the Russian Secret Service want revealed – that the present Russian prime minister had tried to defect to the West during the Cold War. People get killed to keep this secret and the investigator is in serious danger (as is his family). It is a good book. The Silent Man by Alex Berenson John Wells, a CIA agent, must work to uncover a mystery which includes an attempted assassination against him and his girl friend, and the theft of two atomic warheads in Russia. It turns out that this is an Islamic plot to bring the war to US territory. There is a lot of action, and the characters are well plotted out. The ending is a bit abrupt, but other than that, it is a good read. Navajo Autumn by R. Allen Chappell This story takes place on the Navaho reservation. Thomas Begay is arrested when he is found dead drunk under a bridge and the body of a Bureau of Indian Affairs investigator is found nearby. Charles Yazzi, Thomas’ friend, helps him out and investigates the whole affair, eventually coming to the conclusion that there is much more going on than originally suspected. The book is well written and gives one a good sense of some of the aspects of Navaho culture. The Vatican Pimpernel by Brian Fleming This is the story of Hugh O’Flaherty, an Irish monsiegnor who works at the Vatican during World War II. Being Irish, he does not want to take sides. Then he witnesses the rounding up of the Jews by the Nazi’s, and from then on he aids whoever is running away (allied soldiers and airmen, Jews, foreign labor patrols, etc.). At the end of the war he even treats Nazi war criminals with human respect. He comes across as incredibly heroic, almost foolhardy. He was credited with saving thousands of people during the war. A Stroke of Good Fortune by Flannery O’Connor The setting of this short story in incredibly simple. A woman is climbing a staircase in her apartment building. She is winded and ends up resting on the landing. A busybody opens her door and speaks with her. The woman on the staircase thinks that she is having difficulty because of an undiagnosed heart condition, but the busybody suggests that maybe she is just pregnant. She doesn’t want to be pregnant for she has lost other pregnancies and a child, but this is her grace moment: to accept what God has sent her way. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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