Thursday, February 4, 2016

Rome - Atlanta - Jacksonville - Ellicott City - San Antonio

February 4, 2016 Peace and Good, As you can see in the post above, I have been travelling quite a bit lately. After our visit to Assisi, I headed out to Atlanta. I was there for an overnight with our friars at St. Philip Benizi Parish so that I could fly on to a retreat center in Jacksonville. Our US provinces have been celebrating a series of five continuing formation get-togethers (ten days each) on the topic of creating communion. I was able to be present for the last few days of this particular gathering. It was good to see all the friars and sit in on the talks given by fr. David Coutourier, the director of the Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure University. On the 29th I flew up to Ellicott City. I had a couple of dentist appointments, and this trip gave me a chance to visit with some friends. I am also trying to get over a cold that I caught a few weeks ago that has been dragging on and on. Ellicott City is still digging out of the snow if received a couple of weeks ago. This week is supposed to be a bit warmer, so they hope that much of it melts. Yesterday I flew down to San Antonio, Texas. I am visiting the house of formation here (pre and post novitiate). It is nice the see the house fairly full this year. The postulancy will be moving up to Chicago in July of this year, and this will become one of two official post-novitiate houses in the country. The theology students go to Oblate College which is run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, while the other students go to any number of Catholic Colleges in the area (e.g. Incarnate Word). The house is quite multi-cultural, with a number of students of Mexican-American background, a Vietnamese American, a Korean, and a group of Anglos. Sunday I will head out to Mishawaka (South Bend) to give a workshop to our novices. This is an annual project, one that I enjoy because it lets me get to know the friars in formation. I finished some books and stories: The Bunch of Violets by Ernest Bramah This is another of the stories that involves the blind amateur detective Mr. Carrados. This time he is asked to protect a man who will serve as a courier to bring battle plans to Paris. The courier is invited over to meet a judo expert whom he has tried to meet for weeks. It is all a set up to steal the plans, and Carrados is able to foil the plan. The Last Exploit of Harry the Actor by Ernest Bramah This is another of the stories in which Carrados, a blind amateur detective, is able to help his professional detective friend Carlyle, to solve a crime. This is a theft in what appears to be an unbreakable safe deposit center. Several men has lost great sums of money or treasure. It turns out that the criminal is an actor/thief from the States. This man ends up returning all the pillaged goods when he has a conversion experience. Maximum Bombay by Gary Shteyngart This is the story of an author’s ten day trip to Bombay (presently called Mumbai) so that he can experience what one of his friends, Suketi Mehta wrote in his book: Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found. This short account is by no means in depth. He marvels at some of the foods that he eats there. He is fascinated by a fortune teller who interprets cards that are picked out for him by a green parrot. He is amazed by the juxtaposition of extreme poverty and extreme wealth. I would not call this a great article, but it does give a certain sense of what one would experience in Bombay. Old Man River by Paul Schneider This is a long treatment of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. It speaks of the various cultures that have lived along its banks. It deals with some of the historic events that took place on the river (e.g. the capture of New Orleans and Vicksburg during the Civil War). It also speaks of the various trips that the author and his son took in canoes along the river. It also deals with some of the dangers that are facing the river now with flood control and polution. It is a good treatment. The Last of Eden by Alex Shoumatoff An author spends time with some of the indigeneous peoples of the Amazon. He speaks of their difficulties, especially with corrupt officials, loggers who illegally harvest their reserves and poor people who are desparate and who settle on those reserves so that they might have land for their families. The question comes up of whether a small number of people who are living in very primitive conditions should be able to occupy large territories that could be used for other things. How much should their unique cultures be preserved? The article provides a good meditation on this topic. The Tragedy at Brookbend Cottage by Ernest Bramah A man comes to a blind detective named Carrados worried that his brother in law is preparing to kill his wife. He has good reason to worry for the man is having an affair. The detective manages to go through the clues and deduces that the worries are valid for the man is planning to stage what would seem to be an accident so that he might electrocute his wife. She, upon learning of the plot, gives in to dispair and kills herself. It is a bit maudline and certainly an emotionally detached story (which the detective himself admits). Hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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