Sunday, January 10, 2016

Mesilla Park, New Mexico - Rome

January 10, 2016 Peace and Good, I spent the last week in Mesilla Park where the friars of the Mid-western province have a retreat house. I preached a retreat to 48 Friars Minor from the six provinces that they have in the United States. They are discussing some type of amalgamation right now, and so while I preached on the story of the two disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus, I tried to tie in topics that my own province encountered while we were joining with the other eastern province a year and a half ago. The Friars Minor were a great group of men, very similar in temperament to ourselves. One of them is heading off to Vietnam this week to spend four months teaching English to their postulants and he knows many of the friars that I know from our community. I enjoyed sharing with them and getting to know them. The trip back was a little difficult. The first flight, from El Paso to Houston, was an hour and a half late taking off. Fortunately, I had a long layover in Houston, so there was no problem. The second flight, from Houston to London was over two hours late taking off due to thunder storms in the area. That made me miss my flight from London to Rome, but they were able to rebook me for later in the day, so it all worked out. It was a trip, though, that ended up taking about 24 hours. Fortunately, I have the day off today before we begin our definitory again tomorrow. We have a week of definitory meetings here in Rome, and then a week of meetings with provincials in Assisi in the week after. I finished some books: My New York: A Romance in Eight Parts by Peter Selgin This is a love story of a man with the city of New York. He visits it as a child and falls in love with it. He has various experiences as a young man. He eventually moves out and leaves the area completely. He loved the intrigue and variety of the city, but he at times also felt used and abused by the city (and by himself). The story is well written and interesting. It reminds of that old map of New York for New Yorkers which shows the city up to a certain avenue and then bundles together all the rest of the world. The Farm by Tom Rob Smith I had read a book by Tom Rob Smith a number of years ago, Child 44. It was about a detective in the Soviet Union who is investigating a mass murderer of children in a country that does not to acknowledge its flaws. In this book, an English husband and a Swedish wife retire to a Swedish farm. There the wife thinks she has uncovered a ring of people who abuse adopted children. She runs to England to tell her son who must sort out whether she is telling the truth or whether she is suffering from some form of paranoid dementia. It is a very unusual story, but very well developed. Battlefield Prussia by Prit Buttar This is a thorough treatment of the fall of Prussia to the Soviets during the Second World War. The author speaks of the various battles that were fought and the evacuations of both soldiers and civilians farther west so that they might first of all return to German territory, and then so that they might surrender to the British or Americans and not to the Soviets. He speaks of the atrocities that the Soviets inflicted on the civilians in response to all that they and their countrymen had suffered from the Nazis. The book is a good treatment of the topic. The Kimberly Fugitive by Clifford Ashdown A man has a small accident on his bike with another man on a bike. The other man acts strangely. When the first man returns to his hotel, he notices that there is a diamond smuggler on the loose. He suspects for various reasons that the man with whom he had the accident is actually the criminal. He follows him and manages to take his smuggled diamonds from him, all the while using his skill on a bicycle. Lusitania: Triumph, Tragedy and the End of the Edwardian Age by Greg King and Penny Wilson This is the story of the last voyage and the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. This was a tragedy that marked the brutality of undersea warfare. The authors speak about the warnings that both the German government and the British admiralty gave before and during its trip. The captain blatentely ignored many of the safety procedures that he was supposed to take (e.g. life boat drills, zig-zagging his course, etc.). The crew was also negligent in helping the passengers once the boat was hit by one (or possibly two) torpedoes. The book speaks about the luxury of the trip for the first and second class passengers. They also deal with various conspiracy theories on its sinking (e.g. that Churchill, the Lord of the Admiralty, allowed for its sinking in the hope of bringing the US into the war). The book is a good treatment of the topic. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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