Sunday, June 14, 2015

Rome - Bacau (Romania) - Rome - Ellicott City (Mayland)

June 15, 2015 Hope you are all well. This blog covers a couple of weeks. The first week started out in Rome. I had just arrived in from Canada and the United States. The first couple of days, as always, were spent getting over jet lag. I was also able to catch up on a few things. When I have jet lag, it is very difficult for me to do anything that requires a lot of thinking, but I am able to do some mindless projects (and there are always plenty of them). On Tuesday I flew out to Romania with the Minister General and one of the other Assistants. The friars there were celebrating the 120th anniversary of the founding of the province and the 25h anniversary of the re-founding after the fall of communism. They had a great celebration without over-doing it. Sometimes at these celebrations it goes on forever and the meals are a real waste of food. This was well done and it was great to visit some of the sites in Roman (the town where the seminary is located). We especially went to a social service center for the Gypsies run by the friars. They offer tutorial programs for the children (and adults) and they help to find regular jobs for the adults. It is very well run. Thursday we flew back to Rome. We went through Fiumacino Airport in Rome. You can still smell the smoke from the fire they had there at the beginning of May. Saturday I was back at the airport to fly out to Baltimore. This week has been a series of doctor and dentist appointments. These are just normal check ups with the inevitable referrals. Everything went well, and the only result is another visit to the dentist in August for a tooth extraction and a brace on my wrist (due to some swelling of one of the muscles). Given my age, I came out of this quite well. Yesterday I concelebrated up at the big house at Ellicott City for the feast of St. Anthony. There were a ton of people. What impressed me most was how ethnically diverse the crowd was. There were East Asians, Indians, Philippinos, Hispanics, African Americans, Africans, Whites, etc. It just goes to show you how popular St. Anthony is all over the world. Tomorrow I fly out to Louisville for a day long meeting and a celebration. Hope you have a good week. Here are some of the books I have finished: Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King Ross King has done a series of books on famous artists and the works that made them famous. This one is about how Leonardo da Vinci painted the Last Supper on the refectory wall of a friary in Milan. It deals with Leonardo and his life and the fact that the Last Supper is one of relatively few works that Leonardo actually finished. It deals with the complicated politics of the time involving Milan, papal Rome, Venice, Naples, France and the Holy Roman Empire. It covers the history of the painting and its gradual degradation from humidity, mold, inept restoration, bombing, etc. King’s books are always quite enjoyable and informative. A Country of Vast Desights: James K Polk, the Mexican War, and the Conquest of the American Continent by Robert Merry This book is about President Polk, a one term president, who oversaw the negotiations with Britain over the border between the State of Washington and that of British Columbia, and who engaged the United States in a mixmatched battle with Mexico. It goes through the very messy politics around the war, charges of imperialism, hidden agendas such as slavery expansion, etc. It also deals with the corrupt and inept Mexican government which, although beaten, found it difficult to surrender for no one seemed to be in charge. This is a very good account of a bit of history that is often overlooked in our history classes because the U.S. doesn’t really come out looking all that good. The Constant Gardener: A Novel by John le Carre As he has grown older, the spy novelist John le Carre has become more and more conspiratorial, not trusting in any institution whatsoever. This book is about a pharmaceutic company that has coopted the British government as they use Africans as human guinea pigs for their new medications. An activist and doctor are murdered to hide all of this, and the woman’s husband, a type of Harvey Milktoast, turns out to be more courageous and enterprising than anyone expected in sorting out the plot. The Pentateuch edited by John Barton and John Muddiman This is a well written, very long commentary on the first five books of the Bible. It is not for the casual reader, but I always find these types of books interesting because I always pick up a detail or two in each chapter that I had never heard before. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill This is a long saga about a man who harvests children and takes them to a place in his mind called Christmasland. He envisions it as a place of delight, but it is all fun without any responsibility or even conscience. The children become vampire like and prey on others. There is a girl who stumbles across this man named Manx and escapes from him. Later, as a mother, she must try to save her son who has been kidnapped by him and his evil counterpart, Bing. Shalom fr. Jude


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