Sunday, November 8, 2015

Limuru - Sabukia - Ruiri - Nairobi (all in Kenya)

November 9, 2015 Peace and Good, I am finishing up my canonical visitation to Kenya. All has gone well all the way along the trip. The trips between the various friaries has not always been easy because the roads are so bad in certain portions of the country (usually in those zones which do not have a deputy in the ruling government). This past week I have been "up-country", in an area where there was really not internet coverage. Also, the last couple of days, the water went out in the friary where I was staying. I asked the friars what had happened, and they said that the pipes for the water run down to the village from up in the hills, and the elephants often either step on the pipes which run overground, or they want water and they smell the moisture in the pipes and actually pull them apart to get at the water. When he told me that, I realized that "I was not in Kansas anymore." Sabukia is the national shrine to Mary in Kenya, and the bishops of Kenya have entrusted it into our care. The friars are doing a great job. The shrine is being paid with funds collected in Kenya itself, but the friars often have to go out into the parish to preach appeals for funding there. The shrine church will hold 4,000. They recently had a Eucharistic Congress there, and there were between 20,000 and 30,000 people. People are coming all the time to the shrine. The friars have also put up a carpenter's shop and school (funded by the Polish government) and are building a retreat house. It has a great future. Ruiri is a poorer area. The friars oversee the parish, an infirmary (which is run by Felician sisters), a grammar school (also run by the Felicians), a retreat house, the postulancy and twenty out stations. There are not enough friars in this friary, Sabukia and one other friary, but there are going to be a couple of good sized ordination classes so that should be resolved. The custody has actually been most prudent in accepting new assignments so that they do not overtax the friars. I am very hopeful for this jurisdiction. There is a lot of hope and enthusiasm. The friars speak very well of each other. It was interesting that when I told them of my next destination in the visitation, they inevitably spoke of how good the friars where in that friary. That is a very good sign. This mission was founded by the Polish friars from Gdansk. They did a fine job. They did not have all that much money, so the Kenyans never became dependent on outside sources of money. They built institutions that are sustainable. They put locals in charge as soon as possible. I will head back to Rome on Friday evening for about a week My readings have been: Citadel: The Battle of Kursk by Robin Cross This is the account of the last great offensive by the Germans against the Soviet forces during the Second World War. It was an all in bet that Hitler made and lost. The Soviets had excellent intelligence and knew that the Germans were coming. They had prepared an incredible defense against the tanks of the Wermacht, and no matter how much the Germans pushed, they only pounded themselves against impenetrable barriers. After this battle, it was only a matter of time before the Germans would be defeated by the allies. Darius the Great by Jacob Abbott Over the years, I have read a whole series of books by Abbott about various important figures in history. I believe that they were written at the turn of the 20th century for young people to show them moral values. Abbott presents this figure, Darius, as a great emperor who was also an oriental despot. He was not of royal lineage, but inherited the throne almost by accident in a coup d’etat that unthroned a false successor to the throne. He is the Persian emperor whose army was defeated by the forces of Athens at Marathon. Abbott’s picture of this personage is not all that positive, even is occasionally he does state something more positive about him. Roadwork by Stephen King Over the years, Stephen King has published a number of works under the pseudonym Stephen Bachman. This character is supposed to be a New Hampshire farmer who presents a more negative picture of the world than King would (believe it or not). This book is about the decompensation of a man who is losing his work place and his family home to a road development. In the back of the story is the loss of his son to a brain tumor. This unhinges the man and he more or less drives out his wife and tries to first stop the road project through sabotage and then tries to defeat them in a spectacular way. Between Cross and Crescent: Jewish Civilization from Mohammed to Spinoza by David Ruderman This is a thorough outline of various movements and important figures in the Jewish world from around 600 AD until around 1700 AD. Like all of the Teaching Company Courses, this is well told and well documented. He covers the Jewish centers in Babylon, in Spain (during the period known as the convivenza), in Israel and Turkey, in Amsterdam and in Poland. He describes cultural changes and challenges, especially during the years of the Crusades and the rebellion in 1648 in Poland under the Cossacks. This course is well done. Hitler’s Rockets by Norman Longmate During World War II, the Germans invented two remote flying devices to bomb London. The first one, the VI rocket, was more of a drone bomb that flew relatively slow and was highly inaccurate. The second was a much more sophisticated rocket, the V2. It devastated London during the closing months of the war. Once it was above a certain height, it flew at such a tremendous velocity that it could not be shot down or even detected until one heard the familiar double blast that marked the crashing of the rocket into the ground. There were many casualties, and the rockets especially crushed the spirit of the citizens who could do little to protect themselves. The only thing that stopped the rockets was the conquest of the sites where it was manufactured and launched. Hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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