Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Mishawaka - Boynton Beach - Rome

February 23, 2016 Peace and Good, When I finished the workshop with the novices in Mishawaka, Indiana, I headed south to Boynton Beach, Florida (about 40 miles north of Miami) for a meeting with the provincials of our conference. That meeting lasted from Tuesday to Thursday. We got quite a bit done in those days, especially in terms of preparing all the details for the joining of houses of formation in June. On Saturday, there was another meeting with myself, the provincial of OLA province, the custos of our Montreal custody, and the vicar of the mother province of that custody, Gdansk. We were discussing the presence of our friars in Canada. The custody serves Polish immigrants, but fewer and fewer Poles are coming to Canada and the US. Now, if they want to leave Poland for work, they tend to end up in Germany or Great Britain. They can go there for higher wages, and yet fly back home to visit their families whenever they want. As the number of new immigrants diminishes, the need for Polish speaking parish also diminishes. The question is whether this presence in Montreal could be combined in some way with the English and French speaking friars in Canada to form a new reality. This is a long term project, but we have been taking the first tentative steps in that direction. Sunday I flew back to Rome. The weather here is still a bit cool and overcast. We have a definitory meeting next week, so I have a chance this week to get over my jet lag and take care of a couple of writing and taping projects. I have finished some books and stories: Loving Las Vegas by Colson Whitehead This is the story of a young man travelling throughout the west US just after his college graduation. He is helping to write a series of quick tip travel books. He falls in love with Las Vegas. He describes it as an adult Disneyland, and as a place where one can worship decadence. He really seems to have enjoyed his time there, seeing it as a place where one can put off one’s own persona and live a dream self for the days one stays there. In the Abode of the Gods by Jeffrey Tayler This is the story of a man who undergoes a Buddhist pilgrimage in Tibet and other mountainous parts of China to visit holy sites there. It is not an easy trip. Parts of the journey are high in mountain passes, while other parts descend to jungles along the Mekong river. He is led by a husband a wife team. The man on pilgrimage realizes that suffering is part of every pilgrimage and he does not resent his difficulties. Yet, he is disillusioned by the fact that the Buddhism that he studied was not being lived in the part of the world in which he found himself. The religion had been corrupted by many superstitious beliefs that were vestiges of the original religion of the area. Death Angel by Linda Howard The girlfriend of a drug lord plays dumb so that she can enjoy his riches. One day the drug lord hires an assassin who, instead of the standard payment, asks to have sex with the drug lord’s girlfriend. He allows this, which she sees as the lowest form of betrayal. She runs away with 2 million dollars of his money, and he send the assassin after her to kill her. She dies in a way, but is sent back by her heavenly court to try to clean up her life. She does this and eventually she and her assassin meet again and fall in love with each other. Laudato Si, an Encyclical by Pope Francis This is the pope’s recent encyclical on the environment. Right after it was released, one heard so many different versions of what it contained. It really is not all that radical. It does not try to solve scientific problems. Rather, it calls us all back to Gospel values, especially as applied to caring for the gift of the creation that God has placed into our care. As always, the pope speaks of our special obligation to care for the poor who are often those most hurt when there is an environmental degradation in whatever form. Roosevelt’s Centurions by Joseph Persico This is the story of the military men who collaborated with Franklin Roosevelt during World War II. We hear both a story of what they did and some of the inside information about who they were. We hear of their strengths and weaknesses. In spite of this highly qualified team of military experts, Roosevelt is shown to make the final decisions on so many points during the war. We see how Roosevelt knew who to choose and how to use them to allow them to use their own talents (e.g. Marshall as an organizer, Admiral King as a fighter, Eisenhower as a politician in the best sense of the word, etc.). This is a good treatment of the topic. Born on the 9th of July by Patrick Symmes This is the story of a trip to South Sudan, the newest independent nation on the earth. South Sudan was cut off from the north in recent years for they are very different. The north is mainly Muslin while the south is Christian and animist. While the south is now independent, it is not very organized. In spite of the vast distances, there are hardly any roads between towns. There are many different bands of tribesmen who want nothing to do with a national government. There are many, many problems, and too few people trained to deal with them. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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