Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Seoul - Incheon - Gangwha - Tongin - Yahgpyeong - Daeyeon - Ilgwang - Daegu (all in South Korea)

June 8, 2016 Peace and Good, As you can see by the blog title, I have been travelling all throughout the Republic of South Korea, visiting our friars in their various friaries. In Incheon, we have a parish and a small home for the elderly. In Gangwha there is the house of formation. In Tongin we have a house for the mentally challenged. In Yahgpyeong there is a center for the Militia of Mary Immaculate, a retreat house, an internet apostolate, and a production facility for a tradition herbal drink. In Daeyeon, which is a district of Pusan, there is a parish and another house for the mentally and physically challenged. In Ilgwang, there is a chapel (originally for the local lepers) and a ministry in ceramics and the pressing of sesame seed oil. In Daegu we have a large parish and a ministry to the Secular Franciscans and the Militia of Mary Immaculate. The friars are involved in many different apostolates. They live a simple life style, and I especially admire their outreach to the poor and marginalized. Korea seems to be one big construction project. Most people live in large apartment buildings. They are building more and more every day. Next to Ilgwang they are putting in a project that will house 30,000 people. The transportation system is top notch. The internet is the fastest in the world. It is an incredibly technologically advanced nation. The Catholic here are fervent. At 6 AM Mass this morning in our chapel we had 80 lay people with us, a good number of whom stayed to pray the Divine Office with us. Today I head back to Seoul. On Saturday I meet with the provincial and his definitory to give my preliminary report, and then I head out to Bangkok on Monday to do some work for Franciscans International. I finished some books: Calypso by Ed McBain I have read a number of Ed McBain’s books. They are all quite good. This one is about a musician who is gunned down in the street for no apparent reason. The detectives follow the lead, but a few other people are killed in the meantime. It turns out that the murders are tied to the disappearance of the musician’s brother a number of years ago and the rantings of a woman who is severely unbalanced. Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Life by Paul Collins This is a short biography of the brief life of the tragic author Edgar Allen Poe. While he was brilliant in his writing which influenced many authors after him, he was incapable of living a normal life. He barely survived on what little he earned from his writings and from his work as an editor at various newspapers and magazines (almost always being fired for his drunkenness). He married a very young cousin who died early of tuberculosis. He died after briefly achieving sobriety and planning to marry his high school sweetheart. Rising ’44 by Norman Davies Norman Davies is probably the most informed British author on the history of Poland. He is widely respected there. This book speaks about the rebellion of the home army of Poland against the Germans in 1944. The Soviets had encouraged the rebellion over their radio, but then when it broke out, they stood in place so that the leaders of the Poles might be killed, making their takeover of the country easier. Davies also deals with the malicious lies told by the Soviets about the leaders of the rebellion whom they imprisoned and killed after the war. The book is well written, but a bit exhaustive. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory The author has made a cottage industry of writing historical fiction about the Tudors and the period of time right before their reign. This is the story of Mary Boleyn. She was Henry VIII’s lover before her sister married Henry and became queen. The author is not all that kind to Henry (which is fair) nor to Anne, Mary’s sister. We see the sister rivalry, and the eventual flight from the court of Mary to escape the intrigues of her sister and her uncle. As always, the author gives a good portrait of this troubled woman. The Persian Empire by John W. Lee This is one of the Great Courses from the Teaching Company. This course presents the history and culture of Persia from the time of Cyrus the Great to the end of the empire after the conquest of Alexander the Great. It tries to be fair to the Persians, especially considering that the majority of histories of the empire were written by the Greeks, the enemies of the Persians. The professor does a great job of presenting new information from archaeology and other sources that balance his approach. Rather than presenting the Persians as some kind of barbarians, it shows that they had a very developed culture, religion, and government. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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