Sunday, July 31, 2016

Los Angeles - Rome - Cracow

July 31, 2016 Peace and Good, About ten days ago I finished my trip to California where I witnessed the investiture (receiving the habits) and the simple profession (friars taking their first,temporary vows) of the incoming novitiate class and the outgoing class. There were seven in each group. I then flew out of Los Angeles for Rome. I was only there for about 16 hours before I flew out again to Cracow for World Youth Day. There are well over one million young people here for this celebration. The Pope arrived early in the week, and he has been staying on the other side of the piazza from where we were staying (at our friary here in Cracow). Yesterday we got to see him in a small group when he came to our Church for a short prayer service. I was asked to give a talk to one of the small groups for catechism instructions for the English speaking group on Friday. There were about one hundred who came to the talk on Maximilian Kolbe and it went quite well. I attended two days of the full group of catechesis for English speakers. It was in an arena that holds 20,000, and they estimated there were around 18,000 each day. It was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, and they did a great job. Tomorrow the whole definitory will drive out of Cracow, staying in Vienna for the night at our friary. Then on Tuesday we continue on to the Alps in Italy where we will spend a week of vacation together. This will be great for we are all a bit worn out from travel, etc. I finished some books: The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941-1942 by Nigel Hamilton This book deals with the idea that FDR exercised his role as Commander in Chief, especially during the first full year of World War II. While he listened to his military advisors, he was not afraid to make his own decisions, even in contrast to their recommendations. A good example of this is to go ahead with the invasion of North Africa, a move that his Secretary of Defense and most of his Joint Chiefs of Staff opposed, even somewhat violently. His laid back style sometimes led people to underestimate how much he was in charge, but that he was. Furthermore, his jovial style led some who were natural enemies of his policies to nevertheless like the man who paid so much personal attention to them. Out of Eden Walk by Paul Salopek This is the account of a multi-year on foot adventure to travel from the cradle of humanity in the Rift Valley in Africa to the tow of the South American continent in Tierra del Fuego. The idea is that the author was following the dissemination of the human race as they spread across the various continents. Deep Intellect by Sy Montgomery One would not expect to think of an octopus as an intelligent animal, but that is exactly what researchers have discovered. They seem to be able to recognize certain people whom they either like (shown by the fact that they let themselves be picked up without difficulty) or dislike (shown by the fact that they either hide from that person or even attack the person with water jets that they shoot out). It is difficult to measure the intelligence of the animal given that many of the tests that would be applied to vertebrate animals cannot be used for one that is invertebrate, but there are clear signs that the octopus is smarter than one would think. Behind Closed Doors at Hotels by Gary Shteyngart This is a short, humorous travel essay about getting stuck in a hotel room with a loud, amorous couple in the next room or the next rooms. He goes on about how this only happens when he is travelling alone, almost as if the couple next door are mocking his aloneness. The essay is nothing earth shaking, even if the experience next door seems to be. Ants and the Art of War by Mark Moffett This is a science article on how colonies of ants go to war and the comparison between their techniques and those of human armies. The most expendable ants are usually thrown into the front line, while the truly powerful champions are horded in back until their presence makes all the difference. Some ant colonies establish a modus operandi with other neighbor communities, but others just wander wherever they want. The author describes the horrifying intensity and savageness of the attacks. Hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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