Monday, December 7, 2015

Rome - St. Paul's Bay

December 7, 2016 Peace and Good, The early part of last week we began our definitory. This one is a bit unusual, for we went three days and then took a break. Most of the definitory went down to Peru for the beatification of two of our friars. I asked the General for permission to skip this trip. I have been travelling a lot this year and I feel a bit worn down. I am spending this week at one of our friaries in Malta. The friars have been very hospitable, and I have plenty of time to pray, sleep, eat and walk. I will be flying back to Rome on this Friday to pick up with the definitory again this coming week. I finished some books: The Rembrant Affair by Daniel Silva A Rembrandt painting is stolen in a violent robbery from a restorer who is working for Gabriel Allon’s friend Julian Isherwood. Allon, a retired member of the Mossad, Israel’s spy network, follows up the leads. It brings him to a Nazi war crime when the painting was first stolen, plus a descendant of the original thief who is now running a highly questionable industrial trust which was built upon the proceeds of plundered Jewish goods taken during the war. As always, Silva’s books are well plotted and written. Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca by GM Ford This is a humorous account of a down and out detective who uses street people to investigate his assignments. There are two crimes being followed: a plot to bury toxic waste on a Native American reservation and the murder of a young Native American. The detective got this assignment from a crime lord who wants the detective to find and protect his granddaughter who is a wild one and who has taken up with a radical environmental terrorist group. The name of the book which takes place in Seattle comes from the Juan de Fuca Islands which are in the Puget Sound and how one of his street people calls them Wanda Fuca instead of Juan de Fuca. The Pearls of Isis by Rodrigues Ottolengui This is another continuation of the stories about precious gems that I had read in these past days. This one involves a very precious set of pearls which the detective’s friend has bought, just as he bought the precious opal that had been stolen and its twin. In this case, the pearls are from Latin America and each pearl represents the ransom paid by a perspective bridegroom so that his very beautiful bride would not become a temple priestess. The pearls were extorted from their owner by blackmail, and then stolen by the owners girlfriend. Like the other stories, it is just a bit hokey. Eiffel’s Tower by Jill Jonnes This is the story of the construction of the Eiffel’s Tower in Paris for the International Exhibition of 1889 by the engineer Alexander Gustav Eiffel. He was already a famous engineer for the many iron bridges he had constructed throughout France. He proposed this 1000 foot tower to be a hallmark of the exhibition. It was a very controversial project, much opposed by many as an eyesore. Yet, it was truly the crowning point of the many building constructed for the exhibition. The author covers the difficulties of constructing it, the importance it acquired, and the reasons why it was never torn down. She also deals with many of the cultural occurrences in those days, especially the painters Van Gogh, Gaugin, Whistler, etc. She also speaks extensively of the tremendous success of the Buffalo Bill Western Show which took place at the same time. Birthplace of the American Vacation by Tony Perrottet In the 19th century, William Murray wrote a guidebook to travelling in the Adirondack area of northern New York State. He presented it as a way of escaping from the poisonous atmosphere of the big city. The book turned out to be a best seller. People flocked to the mountains (often ill prepared) in order to live in nature for just a bit. This is where the word vacation came from – they vacated their normal homes to spend a holiday (the British way of saying vacation which went out of vogue at this time) in the wilds. This short presentation speaks of the Adirondack area then and now in very glowing terms. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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