Sunday, July 12, 2015

Rabat - Bummarad - Birkikawra - Qawra - St. Paul's Bay - Vittoria - Valletta

July 13, 2015 Peace and Good, This has been a busy week with the visitation to the friaries in Malta. The first friary outside of Valletta, the capital, was Rabat. This is our oldest friary on the island. It is right next door to the city of M'dina, which is an Arab name (for Malta was under the Arabs for a century and a half, and their language is a form of 9th century Arabic). Rabat also has some remains from the original Phoenician inhabitants. (Phoenicia was the country in what we today call Lebanon. They were the founders of Carthage, the enemy of Rome.) The next friary was Bummarad. This is a very small parish, 1,100 families. It is in a farming region, so the second Mass of the day which I attended was at 6:15 AM. I didn't even ask when the first Mass was. This is one of three parishes on the north coast of the island. The third friary was Birkikawra. This is both a shrine church and the location of a printing apostolate run by the friars calls CAK. This apostolate is doing great work in bringing products out in Maltese which obviously has a very limited audience since there are only 400,000 Maltese on the island (although there are many, many more settled throughout the world). They had the Pope's latest encyclical translated and printed only four days after it was issued. Then I went to Qawra. This is a big parish near the sea. It has a very diverse population, probably the most diverse of any community on the island. There are many immigrants from Arab countries and Africa. There are many people who are unchurched and who are sometimes rejected by traditional parishes. The pastoral team is doing a great job reaching out to them. The pastor has an incredible mind. He is always thinking of new things. His friary was the first one of the friars to be powered by solar panels. He is now thinking of mag-lev power generation. He is 69 years old, but has the energy of a 30 year old. St. Paul's Bay is a coast side parish. Their grammar school has representatives of 31 nations. It too has an outreach to the poor. Finally, I visited Vittoria (also called Rabat) on the island of Gozo. This is an island much smaller than Malta with a population of 23,000. It is much more traditional than the "mainland." There is a beautiful shrine there with a group of mostly older friars (who are still very active). Yesterday, Sunday, I came back to Valletta to do some reports and a talk at a gathering of the friars tomorrow. Then on Saturday I head to Rome and Sunday on to the States (Chicago). I finished the following: The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America by Richard Grimes This is a book about the Treaty of Paris of 1763 which ended the French and Indian War and its consequences. Canada and all of New France with the exception of Louisiana were given to the English, who then forbid colonists to settle in territory over the Appalachian (one of the causes of the Revolution of 1775). The native American were not consulted and they were asked to change allegiance to the English whom they tended not to trust. Spain took over Louisiana territory until around 1801 when Napoleon took it back. The book goes into depth concerning the unintended consequences of this peace treaty which changed so much on the North American continent. Amigos by Julia Cooke This is a strange travel story about a woman who befriends a prostitute who works the tourist trade in Cuba. This woman becomes pregnant and is trying to figure out how to survive. It gives a good sense of the despair of some of the people in Cuba at their poverty and helplessness. Stalina by Emily Rubin This is the story of a woman who is named after Stalin by her parents who are Russian Jews as a way of protecting her from persecution. Her father dies after being arrested, and her mother carries on. Stalina eventually leaves Russia, leaving her mother in an institution where she can be cared for in her dementia. Stalina finds a job in a motel where rooms rent by the hour. The rest of the book deals with her experiences there and with other Russian emigres. The book is quite funny, but also gives an insight into the Russian spirit in the years of persecution and those that followed. Salvation in Death by J.D. Robb This is the first of Robb’s books that I have read. This one, at least, is about a female detective named Eve who is married to a multi-millionaire Irishman named Rourke. She investigates the murder of a priest during Mass and discovers that there are many secrets behind his life and death. Although Eve is not Catholic, the book treats Catholic themes somewhat favorably. One of two heroes of the story ends up being a priest. The book is set in the mid 21st century, which is an odd choice because the author does not really deal with this other than positing some ultra modern gadgets. Also, especially at the beginning of the book, some of the details around the Mass and the Church are all messed up. You only wish that the editor had sought the opinion of someone who knew what he/she was talking about. Otherwise, the book is clever and entertaining. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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