Monday, October 19, 2015

Chicago - Rome

October 19, 2015 Peace and Good, I spent all of this past week in Chicago for a meeting with the provincials and custodes of the conference. The meeting itself lasted three days, and we accomplished quite a bit. I like the honesty of the provincials who try not to cover over problems that would be bound to surface later with unfavorable consequences if they had not been dealt with at the proper time. I also had a lot of short meetings with each of the provincials there. We cover a lot of business in these meetings that could not be dealt with by e mail or on the phone. One of the days we met with fr. Mauro Gambetti, the custos of Assisi. He is a fine man, and it turned out to be an excellent meeting. There is a strong feeling that he is trying to address some of the problems that are bound to occur in international communities like Assisi. He also has a very good working relationship with the other Franciscans in the area. I got to visit my favorite Vietnamese restaurant twice while I was there. They make a soup called Pho which I really like. Saturday evening I flew back to Rome, arriving around noon yesterday. No problems in the trip. It is raining quite heavily in Rome in these days. I finished some books: Missing: Page Thirteen by Anna Katherine Green This is a short story (or rather two short stories) about a man who loses a page of the secret formula that he desperately needs for he will be meeting investors with a few short hours. They call in a woman detective who manages to find it. It had gone under a door in the mansion that was never opened (being sealed with concrete) for some unknown reason. After the formula is found, the owner explains to the detective why he dreaded entering that space (although we never really hear why it was shut up in the first place). It is clever story filled with misdirection. Jesus: A Pilgrimage by James Martin This is the journal of a trip to the Holy Land by James Martin, a famous Jesuit author, and his friend George. Martin speaks of the trip and the experience of the two pilgrims, but he also carefully examines the scripture passages that speak about the events that occurred at the various sites. His scripture work is very well done, and his insights into both scriptural revelation and human response to spiritual situations is very well done. I highly recommend this book. The Displaced Person by Flannery O’Connor This was the last of a series of short stories in a collection of Flannery O’Connor’s stories. This one is about a family of displaced Poles who end up on a farm run by a twice divorced, once widowed woman. She is always displeased with her white and black workers and complains about them unendingly. The Pole turns out to be better than her greatest dream, and yet she finds a way to be displeased with him and his family. He dies tragically, and her life and living fall apart. She had the chance to choose salvation, but preferred to live in his misery and complaining. A counter figure is an old Irish priest (many of the clergy in the rural south in years gone by were from Ireland) who sees beauty in the simplest things, especially in the beauty of a peacock’s feathers. He is the symbol of seeing the good and wonder in the world around us, something that the owners of the farm was incapable of doing. Hostage by Robert Crais The chief of police responds to a hostage situation. Three punks have invaded a home with a father and two children. He must try to save the hostages. In the meantime, it turns out that the father is the accountant of the mob and some important, incriminating records are on the grounds. The mob kidnaps the chief’s wife and daughter and threatens to kill them if the chief does not help them get the disks with the information back. This is an action filled book. One man’s Initiation – 1917 by John Dos Passos I have never read anything by Dos Passos before, so I was interested in this story. He is said to have described the war from the soldier’s point of view. This story deals with two men who are ambulance drivers, bringing the wounded from the battlefield to the care stations. They encounter so much during the fighting, so much that would wound them psychologically for the rest of their lives. He writes in short bursts of episodes which gradually build up to provide an overall impression. Hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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