Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Cracow - the Dolomites - Rome

August 10, 2016 Peace and Good, After World Youth Day in Cracow, a group of us from the General Definitory drove down to the Dolomites in northern Italy. This is the lower extension of the Alps in Italy, and there is a series of valley cultures throughout the region. It was a fascinating trip, and very relaxing. We don't often get time to spend together for we are always on the road from one place to another. There are miles and miles of paths through the forest and along the mountains. We returned to Rome yesterday where it is much warmer. August is always a hot, hot time in Rome, and it appears as if this month will be no exception. I will be here until the 21st and then head out to the States for my 50,000 check up with various doctors. I have finished some reading: Run to the Mountain by Thomas Merton This is the first volume of Merton’s personal journal which has now been published. This was written in the period in which he was teaching at St. Bonaventure University in Olean, New York. He had considered joining the Franciscans, but given his past (an illegitimate child), he was discouraged from applying to that order. Instead, he decided to choose between a social ministry in New York’s Harlem and the Trappist Monastery in Gethsemane, Kentucky. This volume ends with his choice more of less made for the Trappists but Merton not being sure that they would accept him and also not sure that he would not be drafted (the the volume ends at the middle of December, 1941). I found Merton insightful, but very judgmental and categorical in what he knows about the faith. I will slowly make my way through the other volumes of his journal in these next couple of years. The Cortes Enigma by John Paul Davis This is a mystery story of a professor and his nephew who are searching for lost treasure, a ship that had gone down which carried some of the Aztec gold that Cortes had sent back to Spain. The ship went down near the southwestern islands off of England. There is a strange group of people there, all of whom would like to know where the treasure is. I have to admit that I found the story a bit jumbled and did not really enjoy it all that much. 21st Century Limited by Kevin Baker This is a travel story of traveling on the rail system in the United States. Much of the book is a lament that the government and especially the Republican Party have allowed the passenger part of our rail system to deteriorate so much, especially as compared to the high speed rail system that one finds in Japan, China and Europe. Land of the Lost by Stephen Connely Benz I very much enjoyed this travel story for I can identify with it so much. It is about a Fullbright Scholar who is teaching in the former Soviet Republic of Moldova (just across the border with Romania). Much of what he describes is exactly what I found when I first traveled to Romania, although things in Romania have gotten quite a bit better while those in Moldova have actually deteriorated. There was a grayness to everything, and nothing really worked. Yet the people were most hospitable, and they were also desperate to leave, much as those of Moldova today. An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris I have read a couple of books written by Harris on Cicero as well as one named Ghost which is about a ghost writer for a retired Prime Minister of Great Britain. I have always liked his writing style of historical fiction. This book deals with the Dreyfus Affair in France at the end of the 19th century. A captain in the French Army is convicted of espionage and treason for passing secrets to the Germans. Much of the evidence is trumped up because the high command wants to convict the man since he is a Jew. He is sent to solitary confinement on Devil’s Island off the coast of South America. This book is written from the point of view of the Coronel who discovers the plot and eventually publicizes it, at the cost of his own career. The book is very well written. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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