Saturday, October 3, 2015

Rome - Assisi - Bacau - Roman (Romania)

October 4, 2015 The Feast of St. Francis Peace and Good, The week began with myself and the General Definitory meeting with representatives of ten different experimental communities from England, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Poland and Brazil. They are all trying to live our life as Franciscans with a bit more seriousness. We spoke with them for two days and it was an enlightening and encouraging experience. It is not that they are doing anything all that extraordinary, but rather they are simply trying to be more faithful to what we say we are. On Wednesday I traveled from Assisi to Bacau in Romania. I was there for a meeting on Thursday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Theological Faculty at Roman (Romania). I had been part of the faculty right from the beginning, and I represented all of the professors who came from foreign countries to help out the newly refounded province. It was good to see a lot of the friars whom I had taught over the years. Friday I visited one of the towns where I friars serve: Burinesti. In the old days, this town was known as the baby factory of Romania. Families had nine and ten children. Nowadays you see only older people and very young. The others are all in foreign countries trying to earn a living. Saturday there were two events. We had a memorial Mass for a friar who died 50 years ago. He had been placed in prison for a few years and suffered terribly. He was famous for his singing voice. He would sing out religious hymns in prison on Sundays and Holy Days. His voice was so beautiful that the guards would let him finish. But then was he had finished, they would beat him into unconsciousness for breaking the rules. He was 90 pounds when released from prison and died a few months later. Then, later in the evening, we went to a celebration called the Transitus. This commemorates the death of St. Francis on the evening of October 3rd. Today we celebrated the Feast of St. Francis with an ordination to the diaconate. I have finished some books: Caveat Emptor by Ruth Downie This is the third or fourth book by Ruth Downie I have read in the Medicus series. They are about a Roman doctor and his native British wife in the 2nd century A.D. His true profession is being a doctor, but he is continuously called upon to do investigations. This one involves murder and coin counterfiting (a capital offense in Roman territories). It also deals with the policies of Rome which tend to be shaped for its own benefit, and the struggle of native Britains against other tribes and against Rome. The book is well written, and the relationship between the doctor and his wife Tulla is warm and humorous. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Locks by Rebecca Skloot One of the most difficult thing that early researchers sought to do was create a colony of human cells that would live in a petri dish. By accident, they found that some cancer cells taken from an African American named Henrietta Lacks refused to die. It became the cell culture that was used in almost all cell research for decades. Yet, her impoverished family knew nothing of it and never received any recompense from it. This book tells the story of how an author finds them and eventually enters into their trust. It asks some serious questions concerning the rights of a person over the cells of his/her own body when they are harvested in some operation or through other means. The Wisdom of the Torah by Dagobert D. Runes This is a collection of passages from the Old Testament. It is interesting what selections an editor will choose to make an anthology. This selection is quite interesting and gives one a lot to meditate upon. This was part of a collection of five sources of wisdom from the various holy books of religions throughout the world. The Biter Bit by Wilkie Collins This is the account of a young detective who is sent to investigate a robbery of 200 pounds sterling from a man who kept the money in a small box under his pillow while he slept. The man identifies his suspect and pursues him with unfailing energy. Even the fact that the man was preparing for a secret wedding does not forestall the man’s attention. It is only when he reports to his superior that his ideas are shown to be false. Rather than the identified suspect, it turns out that the culprit is the victim’s own wife who had stolen the money to pay a very large dress bill that she had hidden from her husband. A Late Encounter with the Enemy by Flannery O’Connor A 104 year old man is taken care of by his 60 some year old female relative. She has taught all her life, but before this time there was no requirement that she would have an advanced degree. Now she has been studying each summer for years and years. Finally, she is ready to receive her degree. She dresses up her grandfather in his Confederate general’s uniform (although he was never any higher than a Major, he was given the uniform when a film on the Civil War was showing in his town). Her dream was that he would live long enough to sit on stage when she graduated, a wish that is fulfilled (but in a very exact way, for he dies on stage). Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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