Tuesday, March 1, 2016


March 2, 2016 Peace and Good, I have been back in Rome all of last and this week. Last week was, as usual, spent in getting over jet lag and doing some smaller projects to get ready for our definitory meeting this week. We will be meeting all of this week and then I head out to Chicago on Sunday for a week workshop with our postulants in the house of formation there. The weather has changed here in Rome. It is still rainy a couple of days a week, but overall it is a bit warmer. It seems that winter is almost over. I am starting to get ready for a series of presentations that I will be making to our friars in Zambia the week after Easter. They are getting ready for their provincial chapter, and a few of us are coming down from Rome to present a workshop to them to help them in their preparations. I ask you all to pray for the repose of the soul of one of my friends who died last week in Baltimore: Daniel Schneider. I know him and his family well from the time that I helped out in his parish. He was a fine, good man and a good husband and father. I finished some books: Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre This is a fascinating account of a spy during the Second World War. He was a professional thief and con man who was arrested and imprisoned on the island of Jersey just before the beginning of World War II. He was caught on the island when the Nazis invaded (for the channel islands were the only part of Great Britain conquered by Germany during the war). He volunteered to be a spy for Germany and eventually was sent to a training camp in France. He then was returned to England where he immediately surrendered and offered to work for the British. He pretended to sabotoge an airplane factory (with a set designer faking the act). He then returned to Germany where he was awarded the iron cross. After some time in Norway, he was sent back to England where he served as a double agent. The man faithfully served the nation, but he was not honest or upright. He had many affairs with women, stole from both the Germans and the English, etc. He turned out to be a great spy, but the exact opposite of what the British would have chosen if it were up to them. Open Water by Sean Wilsey This is the last of the travel stories in a collection by Paul Theroux. This one is about a young man who is hopelessly lost in his life when he steals a motorbike. The man’s very rich father convinces the judge to send him to a reform camp in Florence, Italy. After his stay there, he drifts up to Venice where he learns to be a gondolier. Some twenty years after this he travels back to Venice to explore the lagoon and its many islands, many of which are now uninhabited. We hear of his adventures and misadventures on this trip. It is a good story of how a slacker finds some meaning in his life. Anthony of Cleopatra by Adrian Goldsworthy This is the third book by Goldsworthy that I have read in the past few months. The other two were on Augustus Caesar and Julius Caesar. This one continues a pattern of being a great historic account of major figures of the Roman empire. This account is not covered with sappy romanticism, but rather tells as much of the story as we know. It helps us to know these two figures much better, especially Cleopatra who has suffered from blatant misrepresentations from the days of the Romans. I will certainly continue to read whatever he has written because I find the books insightful and entertaining. Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield by Kenneth Ackerman This is a truly excellent historical account of how James Garfield first won the nomination and election to be president and then how he faced fights within his own party to actually govern the nation. He did not run for president but was drafted when the other candidates could not win a majority at the convention. He barely won the election after dirty tricks during the campaign. Once elected, he had to face the demands for patronage from the party bosses of various states, especially R. Conkling in New York. He faced him down, but one of his followers who was mentally unbalanced shot and killed Garfield. Chester Arthur, a close friend of Conkling, then became president and instead of acting as a puppet of Conkling, he charted his own course to become a fairly decent president. Freedom of the Monsoon by Malika Gandhi This is a series of episodes in the lives of young Indians in the period of World War II and the independence movement and also in the time immediately before independence (during the massacres between Hindus and Muslims) and leading up to the day of independence. We see how these young people face the adversities of colonialism, poverty, cruelty due to casts and privilege, etc. The dialog is a bit idealistic, but I am not sure that it is wrong given that it is coming from a different culture. It was a good read. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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