Sunday, July 26, 2015

Rome - Chicago - Bolgatanga (Ghana)

July 27, 2015 Peace and Good, I headed over to Chicago last Sunday for an assembly of formators from all over the States. We have agreed to consolidate our formation programs, and this was a meeting to put together a directory for the programs. There were 25 participants, and the meeting went much, much better than I had expected. The first day, every single friar around the table participated in the discussions. There was a feeling of wanting to do what is best for the friars in formation. The meeting went all day on Tuesday and Wednesday. In the off times, I finished my report for the visitation of the Maltese province. I find it is always best to do these things as quickly as possible or they do not get done. On Thursday I flew out from Chicago to Rome and then from Rome to Accra, Ghana. I am here to give three retreats over the next few weeks. The first two will be in the far north of the country, in a diocese called Navrongo-Bolgatanga. Then the last one will be down south, probably in a town called Saltpond. I was invited here because I had given a retreat in a regional seminary a few years back, and one of the teachers there had become the bishop of this diocese - a very fine man named Fr. Alfred Agyenta. I arrived in Accra around 8 PM and slept at the regional bishops' house in the capital. The next morning I left the house at 4:30 to go to the airport for a one and a half hour flight up north. Then there was a two hour drive to the diocese. I arrived 15 minutes before the beginning of an ordination. This was a truly African liturgy, lasting around four and one-half hours, with more singing and dancing than I had ever seen. The strange thing is that time flew in the liturgy. Everyone (probably over 1,000 people) was so engaged that time flew. Today I am getting ready for the retreat which begin this evening. I finished some books: The Swan Thief by Elizabeth Kostova This book is by the author of the Historian, a book about vampires. I did not know what to expect when I began reading this particular work. It is about an artist who is arrested as he tries to deface a painting in a museum. He is non-communicative, so he is commited to an asylum. There he is cared for by a doctor who is also an artist. The doctor slowly uncovers the story of the man as well as a second layer of the story about the object of the man’s obsession. It is very well written. I did not know the end until the end, which is quite an accomplishment for an author. The Gardener of Baghdad by Ahman Ardafan A man who runs a book shop in Bagdad during the difficulties decides he must sell and move out. While he is cleaning up, he discovers a manuscript that speaks about a love story between an Iraqi man who owns a garden shop and the daughter of a British general. This most unlikely match comes to fruition, but only with much pain and sacrifice. The style of description of the author is wonderful. One feels that one has entered this other reality. I highly recommend this particular volume. The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean by David Abulafia This is a very long and detailed study of the various eras and civilizations that existed in the Mediterranean basin from pre-historic times to the present. Abulafia is a good author who gives a good picture of what happened and why. He does not get lost in detail as some historians do. Life During Wartime by Janine di Giovanni This is part of a travel collection. This particular story is about a journalist who spends time in Sarejevo during the Bosnian war and the horrors of what she saw, as well as a trip that she and her fellow correspondents made a few years later for a type of reunion. As she describes the fate of her fellow correspondents, one realizes the cost of doing this type of reporting. The Nameless Man by Rodrigues Ottolengui A man walks into a detective’s office and tells him that he has lost his memory. The detective promises to discover who he is within 48 hours. There are a few instant clues, and as the story unravels, he picks up more information that allows him to complete his task. The story is not all that well laid out, jumping to conclusions without describing how they are reached while the action is going on. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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