Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Los Angeles - Rome - Nemi

March 23, 2016 Peace and Good, I hope that you are all having a good Holy Week. I finished my days in Los Angeles after meeting with the definitory of the California Province and some Korean friars who have a friary in Torrence. I flew back to Rome on Friday which was a long, long flight - ten and one half hours from Los Angeles to London and two and one half hours from there to Rome. Saturday I met with the assistant generals for the OFM friars and the Capuchin Franciscans. We were coordinating programs and just getting to know each other. Sunday, after celebrating Mass in the Basilica of Santi Apostoli, the General Definitory travelled out the a retreat house in Nemi. That is just outside of Rome, and is near Castel Gondolfo where the popes spend their summers. We are getting a few days of rest and prayer before we begin the Triduum tomorrow. We have a beautiful view of the vulcanic lake just below us. Tomorrow we head back to Santi Apostoli where we will be for the Triduum. Then on Easter Sunday night I head out with two other friars for Zambia to give a series of talks in preparation for their provincial chapter. This is similar to what I did in the fall in Romania. I finished some books: Dark Justice by Jack Higgins This is a complicated terrorism story about a Russian oligarch who wishes to sew confusion in the West so that his oil income might rise. He has a local Imman in London send young Muslim men to Iraq for training in terrorism. The British secret services finds out about this and they send one of their agents, Dillon, a former IRA fighter, in to break up the plot. There is a considerable amount of travel and violence before the heroes save the day. Conquest of the Americas by Marshall Eakin This is a teaching company course with 24 half hour lectures which outlines the conquest of the Americas by the Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, and Dutch. Eakin speaks of the process as a cultural collision of three rivers of humanity: native American, European and African (the slaves). He speaks of the heroes of this process and also the villains. He is not afraid to speak of the destruction of wonderful cultures by often brutal conquerors. He eventually speaks of the formation of a new, complex American identity which is a mixture of the three cultures of origin. The course is quite informative. While most of the sources are those of the conquerors, Eakin tries to bring in individuals and exiting information about pre-Columbus situations. The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elizabeth Tova Bailey I bought this book because of the title. I wanted to know what it was all about. It turned out to be the story of a woman who suddenly contracted an auto-immune disease which left her so weak that she could not even sit up. Over the years she has recovered a bit only to have several serious relapses. She could do so little on her own. Her friend brought her a small plant from the woods, and on a lark she put a wild snail on it. The snail turned out to be the ill woman’s friend as she watched it slowly go about its business. She became fascinated with it, studying up on snails, etc. It is a good book which meditates on the busy-ness of life and what happens when all that busy-ness comes to a crashing halt. Dr. William Cook: Pope Francis, the Times are Changing This was a podcast presentation for the Great Courses Series on Serius Radio. William Cook is a professor of the State University of Geneseo who has produced a few courses on the Catholic Faith for the Great Courses Series. One can listen to the various presentations for free by googling Great Courses The Torch. He gave a wonderful overview of his background and theology. He also spoke about St. Francis whose names Pope Francis has taken. He then applies some of his insights to the ministry of Pope Francis. It is a very good presentation. Nixon and Kissinger by Robert Dallek This is an account of the relationship between Nixon and Kissinger and the story of their successes and failures. They come across as very insecure seekers for power. Nixon deeply resented whenever Kissinger was praised. Kissinger was willing to overlook Nixon’s anti-Jewish and other nationalities bigotry in order to be awarded the position of Secretary of State which he deeply lusted after. Neither of them comes out of this looking all that well. It is frightening how out of it Nixon was toward the end (drunkenness, irrationality, etc.). Kissinger is seen as making decisions himself that should only have been made by the president. It is a sad story. I hope you have a good Holy Week. Happy Easter! fr. Jude


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