Friday, December 29, 2017

Melbourne, Australia - Rome, Italy

December 30, 2017 Peace and Good, I returned from Australia the evening of the 23rd, arriving around noon on the 24th. The trip was unending. There was a 16 hour flight from Melbourne to Doha in the Gulf States, a three hour layover, and another 6 and one-half flight to Rome. The jet lag from Melbourne to Rome is 10 hours, which means that these past few days have meant laying low and trying to get over the jet lag. The weather here is Rome is a bit unusual. It has cooled off quite a bit, but the first couple of days back were rainy with thunder storms (which don't happen all that often in Rome). This is good because we had a very dry summer, and the winter crops need the moisture. I am heading to the States this morning for a week. I have a number of doctors' visits this coming week - normal stuff for a man of my age. Then back to Rome for a couple of weeks of meetings. The first week will be our definitory, and then the second week will be a school for the new provincials in the Order. We do this every year or so for the provincials and custodes who have been elected in the meantime. I have finished some reading: The Seminole by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the history and culture of the Native Americans who grouped together with run away slaves in the southern US, and eventually in Florida and Oklahoma, to become the Seminole people. They were not treated all that well by the US government. Many of them were forced to leave their homelands under Andrew Jackson and travel the trail of tears, the ethnic cleansing of the lands each of the Mississippi by the government of whatever native Americans were resident there. The Fugue by Arna Hemenway This is a very odd story of a man nicknamed Wild Turkey (more after an episode in which he obtained a number of wild turkies for a Thanksgiving meal for his band of soldiers rather than after the drink). It travels from here to there as his memory, which is suffering from post tramatic stress syndrome after a particularly horrific episode while on patrol in Iraq, seeks to find its footing. The messiness of the telling of the story well matches the messiness of the ex-soldier’s messed up mind. The Bed-Rest Hoax by Aleandra Kleeman This is a scientific essay in which the author takes to bed for a number of days to experience what women who are running a high risk pregnancy are told to do by many doctors. She uses her own experience and especially scientific studies to show that complete bed rest is actually more harmful to these women than a regiment of limited activity. How Can We Find More People Like You by Sara Borbett This is a travel essay on the attempt of some agents of AIRBNB to find more people in Japan who would host travelers. They find that the ones who would be most likely to allow strangers into their homes are those who already march to a different drummer. That is a little difficult to find in Japan where there is an intense sense of privacy in addition to the need to conform. Salvador Dali by Charles River Editors This is a short version of the life story of the great surrealist artist Salvador Dali. The author of this account is honest in the appraisal and Dali was both a great artist and an even greater promoter of his own talents. This account gives a very fine study of some of the most important pieces of art produced by Dali. I am glad I went through it. Black Cross by Greg Iles This is a fictional story of a secret British plot to infiltrate two specially chosen commandoes (one an American scientist and the other a German Jew from Palestine) into Germany to set off a set of bombs with neurotoxins to prove to Hitler that the allies possessed the poisons and would use them if the Germans attacked the invading troops in Normandy with their supply of poison gasses. It is set in the spy mode, and the author pushes credibility a bit (which is common in this genre), but it is a good book. Happy New Year Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Boston - San Jose, Costa Rica - San Francisco - Sydney, Australia - Melbourne, Australia

December 21, 2017 Peace and Good, It has been a very busy couple of weeks, both in terms of travel and in terms of cultural background. After the Minister General and I dropped fr. Donald off into the care of fr. James, the provincial, we continued on to Costa Rica for the inaugural chapter of a new custody. This custody was formed by the merger of a delegation in Costa Rica and a custody in Honduras. We have been working on this union for seven years, and it is a joy that we finally saw it occur. We had the official union on December 12th, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The day after that celebration, I flew up to San Francisco. This was just a stopping off point, for I was then flying out to Australia. It took me eight hours of flight to get to San Francisco, so I decided to stay the night in a hotel and then fly out the next day rather than trying to fly the whole way that same night. This was a good choice, for the flight from San Francisco to Australia was 14 hours in itself. I visited the friars in Kellyville and Warrawong which are near Sydney, and yesterday I flew south (only about an hour flight) to visit our friars in the Melbourne area (Springvale and Dingley). We have about 15 friars here, including two from the States, one from the Philippines, and one from India. This is a delegation of the Chicago Province (St. Bonaventure), and the visit is a preparation for the provincial chapter in Chicago which will take place right after Easter. I will be heading back to Rome on the evening of the 23rd, arriving in Rome around noon on the 24th. I have finished some reading: The Book of Jubilees by R.H Charles I have often heard about the Book of Jubilees, but I had never read it. This is a book that did not make it into the Bible, but which had a considerable influence in its days (just before the birth of Jesus). It is a type of rewriting of the Book of Genesis with the elements of the story favored by the intellectual background of the author’s school of thought emphasized. It is longer than I expected, but well worth going through at least once. William Wallace by Charles River Editors This is a short life story of the famous Scottsman who was portraayed by Mel Gibson in the film Braveheart. It is a sad story of rebellions, betrayals (often by his own Scotts), the relentless pressure exerted by King Edward I (known as Edward Longshanks). It was a brutal time, and both side used war techniques that would be considered cruel and outragerous today. How the Dog became the Dog: From Wolves to our Best Friends by Mark Derr This is a book that speaks about how dogs evolved from wolves (and possibly with a bit of jackal and/or fox). One can see in the book that the author is head over heals in love with dogs, and sometimes his retoric becomes a bit overly canine centered. He talks about how packs of wolves probably travelled along with packs of the first humans and that somehow they began to interact (maybe even learning hunting techniques from each other). He bemoans the limited breeding of dogs today because it forces attributes on dogs and lead to genectic abnormalities. It is not a bad bood, but not a great one either. Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt and the Supreme Court by Jeff Shesol This is the account of how FDR had a running battle with the Supreme Court which outlawed a number of his New Deal laws and organizations. The court was rather old, and five of the justices were quite conservative. FDR came up with the proposal to add members to the court, up to fifteen. This took various forms, either adding a member for each justice over 70 (and later over 75) or just adding members, etc. The Congress which was overwhelmingly Democratic after the 1936 election nevertheless turned down his proposal. In spite of this, the proposal seems to have frightened some members of the court who then changed their stance on a number of controversial cases to be in favor of FDR’s position. In a sense, he lost the battle but won the war. Thirty Million Gallons Under the Sea by Antonia Juhasz This is the account of a dive near the oil well platform that blew up in the Gulf of Mexico a few years ago and what the scientists found on the bottom of the gulf. The oil that had been dumped there was largely still there. The micro-organisms which ate the oil at first seem to have eaten only parts of it, leaving some of the most toxic elements still there. Furthermore, those elements are entering the food chain which could cause serious health problems in the future. The Night of the Long Knives by Charles River Editors Shortly after Hitler took power in Germany, he turned on the SA led by a brutal thug named Ernst Rohm. The industrialists who financed the Nazis and the leaders of the army demanded that Hitler do something about the SA who were street thugs and who were causing chaos in the land. Hitler along with Goering and Himmler led a purge against the SA in what has long been called the night of the long knives in which many of the SA leaders (along with other enemies of Hitler) were killed. I hope you have a good week as you prepare for Christmas. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Rome - Boston

December 10, 2017 Peace and Good, I was in Rome this past couple of weeks. We had a very long definitory, meeting with some of the men who work with the causes of Blesseds and Saints, with our office of Justice and Peace, and with our office for Ecumenism. We also met with the definitories of some of our Italian provinces. After the meetings finished, I worked on a series of daily reflections to get ahead of the game because I will be travelling extensively these next few weeks. I also finished a series of articles for our magazine in Kenya and a couple of articles for our magazine in Padua. Then we had our big celebration on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. During the novena, we have a different cardinal each day. On the feast itself, it was Cardinal Re. Yesterday I travelled with our Minister General, fr. Benedict Baek, fr. Donald Kos to Boston. We were stopping off in Boston to drop Donald off. He had lived in Rome for 59 years in service to the Order and the Church. His health is failing a bit now, and so we brought him home to be in the Old Friars home in Chicopee, Massachusetts. Today the General and I take off for San Jose, Costa Rica where we will be celebrating a custodial chapter which marks the union of two jurisdictions (something we have been working toward for over seven years). I have finished some reading: You’ll Apologize If You Have to by Ben Fowlkes This is a short story of a professional octagon fighter who loses a battle and end up unconscious and with a huge bruise on his face. He returns home, and has a bad meeting with his ex-wife and child, and another bad meeting with a stranger whom he encounters while walking on the beach. He had just smoked a joint, and the man objects to what he did. The protagonist pushes him to sit down where he is, in the sand and the mud. He later goes back to apologize because he is afraid that the man will call the police on him, and he meets the man’s wife who is much older than he and welcomes the fighter into here home. White Guy in a Djelleba by Michael Chabon This is a travel story about how Michael Chabon is on a trip in Morocco with his family. He is going to a particular village, and his driver goes off track, causing everyone a bit of anxiety. It turns out that the family had asked for lunch somewhere where they served more than couscous, for they were already getting sick of it. The driver had taken them to a market/barbacue place where they get the best meal they were to have while in Morocco. It is a nice story of typical tourist anxiety with a happy ending. How Chance and Stupidity have Changed History: the Hinge Factor by Erik Durschmied This is a good book on a series of battles and historic events in which plain dumb luck or plain stupidity played a major role in the ultimate result. It speaks of battles all throughout history as well as things such as the fall of the Berlin Wall. The author gives enough datail to picture what was happening as well as a bit of speculation concerning the “what if” this or that had happened. Gabrielle Glaser The False Gospel of Alcoholics Anonymous This is an essay in a collection of scientific articles. AA has been considered to be the only way to fight alcoholism, but this article challenges this belief. It speaks of attempts to treat alcoholics in Finland with a mix of medication and counseling which can result in total abstinence or a much lower level of drinking. This is an interesting detail in the article, for AA takes it as a given truth that alcoholics can never drink again, a truth that this article challenges. I am not sure I buy all of its conclusions, but it certainly gives one much to think about. The Big Cat by Louise Erdich This is a strange little story about a man who marries into a family in which all of the women snore incessantly. He speaks of family get togethers as torture during which he rarely slept. He eventually divorces his wife, has an affair with her, and then remarries her. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude Winkler

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Ottawa - Rome

December 3, 2017 Peace and Good, I returned from Ottawa to Rome where we are holding a marathon definitory meeting. It is planned to go from Monday of this past week up to the vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. There are two reasons for the longer meeting this time. The first is that December is when we get the reports of the General Secretaries of our staff. These are the friars who are in charge of various offices which deal with the Secular Franciscans, the Poor Clares, the promotion of the causes of Blesseds and Saints, etc. We are also meeting with the provincials and definitories of the provinces of Italy. They have not been doing all that well in these years, so we want to continue to have a dialog with them to help them in any way we can The weather here has been rainy, which is very good because there was a bad drought all throughout the summer. It is cool, but not really terribly cold. I will be here until December 9th when I begin a long trip (Boston, San Jose, Costa Rica, San Francisco, Sydney, Melbourne and back to Rome. I finished some books: Outlaw by Ted Dekker Ted Dekker is a child of missionaries in Iryan Java, the Indonesian part of the island of New Guinea. He recounts a story of a woman missionary and her infant son who are captured by a savage band of natives. They suffer untold indignities and are at times tortured and almost put to death. The woman had originally intended to share the faith with these people, but she comes to share it in a way that she would never have expected. Her love and that of her son in the face of violence create a new way of seeing reality in the Tulim Valley where they found themselves. The Dutch East India Company by Charles River Editors The Dutch East India company was a great trading empire founded by the Dutch traders and centered in the Indonesian Islands. It was not founded for the advance of civilization, but rather for the accumulation of riches. This was not all that favorable for the inhabitants of this area. The Dutch played on divided loyalties here much as the English did in India. They were certainly guilty of what today would be called war crimes and crimes against humanity. Even though the Dutch remained masters of Indonesia until after World War II, the company’s importance slowly faded as time went on. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon by Charles River Editors This was long considered to be one of the seven wonders of the world, even in ancient times. The problem is that while there are some inconsistent descriptions of its layout, there is no archaeological evidence that it every existed in Babylon. One of the possibilities that the author posits is that it really existed in Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, which was occasionally also called Babylon. There is a lot of theory in this treatment but not a lot of firm information. Hades: The History, Origins and Evolution of the Greek God by Charkes River Editors This is an overview of the Greek treatment of the god Hades. While this god was a brother of Zeus and one of the Greek pantheon, it was nevertheless different from the other gods. It did not reside, for example, on Mt. Olympus. It resided in the underworld. Greeks did not perform the same type of sacrifices to this particular god. This god was not one whom one would adore to ask for favors, but rather one whom one tried to placate so that it would not do something bad to one. The Greek treatment of Hades and the underworld was eventually mirrored in Livy’s Aeneid and Dante’s Divine Comedy. Tyre by Charles River Editors This is a short history of the great trading city of Type on the shore of what today is Lebanon. While it formed a sea borne empire that stretched from Spain to Palestine, it was nevertheless subject to the great powers that surrounded it for all of its history (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, etc.). It was the motherland for settlers who ended up in Carthage and who created first a dependant entity and then eventually an empire in its own right. How Rome Fell by Adrian Goldsworthy I listened to this book about the fall of the Roman empire from the first moments in which there were difficulties up to its eventual dissolution. Goldsworthy is a good scholar and is fair in his treatment of causes and effects. This is a fairly long treatment of the topic, but every bit of it is worth reading. I certainly intend to search for more books by Goldsworthy. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Chicago - Ellicott City - New York - Ottawa

November 21, 2017 Peace and Good, I completed my workshop in Chicago for the Postulants. It was on the Letters of St. Paul, especially applying the spiritual insights of Paul to religious life. I was pleased with how it went. The postulants are a good group of young men. I flew back to Ellicott City for some appointments (both meetings and Dentist and Doctor). As usual, the doctors' appointments set off a set of referrals which I had not expected. No problems - just what is needed at my age. I will be travelling back to Ellicott City right around New Year's for those appointments. It was a trip I had not expected, but... On Thursday I took the train up to New York City for a meeting of the Board of Directors of Franciscans International. We are a good group of eight, and we work very well together. We met at Leo House, a house set up for visiting clergy. It is on 23rd West, a perfect location. All went well, and we finished by lunch on Sunday. I then took a train over to Newark Airport where I picked up a plane for Ottawa. I am visiting here a few days to see our newest friary. It is an international community with a Canadian, an Indian, a Romanian and a Philippino friar. So far, so good. Yesterday we had lunch with the Archbishop of Ottawa, Bishop Prendergast. He is a Jesuit, and the friars have known him for quite some time. Tomorrow I fly back to Rome. I will be there until the 9th for our usual definitory. I have finished some reading: The Fate of Africa by Martin Meredith This is a masterful overview of the colonialization of Africa and the subsequent rise to freedom of the various nations. It gives an unprejudiced view of how this happened and the consequences of the process in the modern era. It speaks of the unspeakable tragedy of authoritarian figures seizing control and robbing the nations of their resources in order to fund a scandelous form of life. It deals with the tendency toward dictatorship in almost all of the countries in Africa. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in understanding the situation there a bit better. Coolidge by Amity Shlaes This is a thorough biography of silent Cal. He was the president who took over the reigns when Warren Harding suddenly passed away. It was a tough act to follow for Harding’s administration was one of the most currupt in history. Coolidge did a good job in righting a sinking economy, but he was so insistent on saving money in the budget that he often did not respond to situations with the needed concern. He believed in a rugged individualism. I found the author of the book a bit too much of a fan of Coolidge, but overall the treatment was good. CSI Reilly Steel: Taboo by Casey Hill This is the first of three short novels dealing with a CSI agent from the States who is now working in Ireland. She is there to run the CSI department and teach many of the policemen there the techniques that are used here. There is, of course, resentment to her showing up and imparting here wisdom on others. This particular volume involves a serial killer who establishes a theme of violating any number of taboos in the killings. It turns out that the killer is well known to Reilly, the agent. Deadlock by Iris Johansen This is the second volume of Johansen I have read or listened to. Her books are OK, but I would not say that I was overly impressed by them. This one involves a complicated plot where various artifacts left by Rasputin’s protegee have been discovered, and this leads to murder and torture of the people involved. There is a bit of secret agent theme in the book. The thing I dislike most about Johansen’s books are that she does not get the dialog right. It always sounds like some unbelievable movie script. The Fall of Japan by William Craig This is an excellent treatment of the last days of World War II in the Pacific. It deals with the bombing of the cities of Japan by fire bombs and by the atomic bombs. It tells of the many coups planned when surrender became imminent (by hard liners who would have preferred that the nation go down in glory). It speaks of the hunt for the prisoner of war camps so that the prisoners might be rescued before they were executed by vengeful guards (which did happen in some camps). It speaks of the beginning of the period of occupation by American fources. It has just the right amount of details to give great insight into the topic. I would recommend this book. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, November 10, 2017

Ellicott City - Chicago

November 10, 2017 Peace and Good, At the end of October I finished my meetings at Ellicott City with the definitory of Our Lady of Consolation Province. I flew out to Chicago for a couple of activities. On the 4th, I was part of a workshop which commemorated the 500th anniversary of the document that split the brown Franciscans from the Conventual Franciscans. There were two academic presentations on this history of the split, and then the common elements that the two groups share. My presentation was on ways that we are now collaborating all throughout the world. I was pleased with the result. We had small group discussions afterward, and the friars came up with many possible forms of collaboration for the future. The idea that everyone seemed to agree with was the suggestion that we get together often to share a pizza. I told them that we get much more done over a picnic table than over a conference table. Since Monday, I have been presenting the Letters of St. Paul to our postulants. Postulants are the men who have just entered our community and they are discerning whether they would like to go to novitiate. This workshop is something that I do every year. We have seven new postulants and one who is doing a second year. Three of the eight were born in foreign countries, which is a trend that seems to be happening year after year. That is not really too much of a surprise, for in the past many vocations came from ethnic communities. I will head out tomorrow to Ellicott City for a few meetings, and then on Thursday I go to New York for a meeting of the Board of Directors of Franciscans International. I have finished some reading: Windsor Castle by Charles River Editors This is the story of Windsor Castle, the castle used as a residence for British Kings all the way back to the days of William the Conqueror. The author speaks of how the castle was esteemed by some kings and fell out of favor by others. There is too much detail for the casual reader and it becomes a bit borning because it has the feel of being weighed down by history. Megido by Charles River Editors This is one of the short treatments of various topics by Charles River Editors. This one deals with the city of Medigo, which lies at a crucial point in the Jezreel Valley in Israel. This city/fortress blocked any invading army travelling to the north or south. It was often destroyed and rebuilt, eventually ending up as a mound (hence the name of the last battle in the Book of Revelation: Armagedon – which comes from the words har = mount and Medigo). This treatment is much more technical that would be of use to the casual reader, devolving into great details concerning the various layers of habitation. Bride by Julia Elliott This is a short story about a medieval nun copyist who lives in a community that is ravaged by plague and famine. It is a very strange story, but yet compelled me to think about the situation more. I would clasify it as good in that it made me think. A Hero of France by Alan Furst Over the years I have read a number of Furst’s books, and I have to say that they never disappoint. He writes about the era just before the beginning of World War II and its early days. This volume is about a ring of French patriots who work to rescue British flyers who have been shot down. The volume is filled with suspense, but never in a cheap or manipulative way. There is a calm style throughout Furst’s writing that lulls one into the story and the world which he is constructing. Obviously, I would strongly recommend this book and anything else Furst has written. The Old Way by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas This is a book of remembrances that Elizabeth Thomas has written concerning her stay with the Bushmen in Namibia in the 1950’s. She was there with her family, and she and her brother (who worked in film) were present in the last days of that particular culture. In the generation immediately following, much of what made the Bushmen distinct was lost to the predominant culture of the land and the civil war that preceded independence. She saw various techniques and ways of living that probably date back to the Neolithic era. The Bushmen were hunter-gatherers who had an uncanny knowledge of their environment, one which was the accumulation of folk wisdom that dates back millenia. She gets a bit preachy when she contrasts the evils of modern society to the simplicity of the Bushmen culture, but the book is well worth reading. Have a good week Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, October 30, 2017

Rome - Ellicott City - Sante Fe - Ellicott City

October 30, 2017 Peace and Good, After the Congress on the spirituality of St. Maximilian Kolbe at our college which is called the Seraphicum at the outskirts of Rome, I flew to Baltimore for a day. This was just a break in the journey, for I and the provincial, fr. James, and the custos of Great Britain/Ireland all arrived on Saturday, and on Monday we headed off to a meeting of the provincials of the States in Sante Fe. This is the first time I was there. It has a very Franciscan history, having been founded by the Friars in 1610. The actual name of the city if the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi. There are no high or ultra modern buildings in the city. Yet, it is beautiful in its own way. There are many, many shops with artwork and crafts, and many, many restaurants. The speciality is Mexican food with a southwest flavor. Yet, there are many different types of food available. In the days that we were there, we never had a bad meal. It is a very peaceful place, with so many beautiful things to see. One day, when we had finished the meetings, we took a side trip to Taos. This is a much smaller place than Sante Fe. Along the way we stopped at a couple of beautiful churches including a shrine that was very, very beautiful as well. I have to say that if anyone were to ask me to recommend Sante Fe, I would do it in an instant. On Friday we travelled back to Ellicott City. Tomorrow I participate in a definitory meeting of Our Lady of Angels Province. There are a couple of things that must be decided, and I have been asked to share the viewpoint of the Minister General on them. Then on the 1st I head out to Chicago for about 10 days. I will be giving a talk at a workshop to about 100 friars, and then I will spend a week with the postulants presenting another workshop to them. (Postulancy is the first year that candidates spend with us as they discern their vocation.) I finished some reading: Rose George A Very Naughty Little Girl This is the story of Janet Vaughan who was responsible for many of the techniques used in storing the blood supply for those who would need transfusions. Before the outbreak of World War II, blood was generally donated from another person who was present. With the outbreak of the war, this would no longer be possible, especially given the many casualties resulting from the Nazi bombing of England. She and her colleagues developed the bottles to use, the tubing, the right mix of chemicals, etc. that have since become standard fare. The title of this essay is that she was not afraid to challenge the powers that be, something that offended the titled class in Great Britain. The Terracotta Army: the History of Ancient China and Famous Terracotta Warriors and Horses by Charles River Editors This is an account of the first emperor of a unified China who ordered that a massive army be built and buried with him to accompany him to the afterlife. The author explains how this was a great advance in culture for previously the king’s courts would accompany him in death by being killed and buried with him. This emperor had thousands of soldiers and horses built from clay and painted and arranged in order in his burial plot. This ceramic army was only discovered late in the 20th century by a family that was digging a well during a drought. The Mariana and Palau Islands Campaign by Charles River Editors This is a Charles River overview of the invasion of Saipan, Tinian, Guam and Palau, all islands that the allies conquered late in the Second World War. These islands served as centers for the air fleets that then attacked Japan and destroyed most of their major cities. Tinian, in fact, was the island from which the airplanes that had the atomic bombs flew. The Battle of Antietam by Hourly History Limited This is a short outline of the bloodiest battle to be fought on American soil in history. In one day over 20,000 men were killed (with many more dying in the following months due to the poor medical treatment available at the time. This is the first battle in which photos were taken after to show people the horror of war. The book is the shortest of outlines and does not give a lot of background information, but it is enough, especially if one intends to visit the site sometime in the future. Bunker Hill by Thomas Fleming This is a masterful account of the battle of Bunker Hill (which actually occurred on Breeds Hill nearby). It gives insight into the characters involved, into the strategy of both sides, and into the consequences of the British victory which proved to be quite pyrric (for they lost so many of their good troops that General Howe, their commander, was very hisitant to attack American troops headon in the future, leading to some miraculous escapes of the American forces when they found themselves in untenable situations. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

La Verna, Italy - Rome - Assisi - Rome

October 19, 2017 Peace and Good, We returned from our retreat in La Verna. It was good to be back in Rome, for La Verna was freezing, both day and night. Here in Rome it is Autumn, and has actually been quite warm in these days. Last week we had a full week of definitory. As usual, we spoke about the presence of friars all throughout the world. Mixed in with our regular meetings, there are always smaller group meetings on various topics. All of that went very well. The meeting finished on Friday, so Saturday I took the train up to Assisi. It is only about two and a half hours to get there. I went up to visit two of the friars from my province, and three other friars who are in their novitiate this year. Novitiate is a year of prayer and discernment when one first enters the Order. Normally, these friars who are from England would have done their novitiate at the common novitiate in California, but this year they were sent to Assisi instead. They are thrilled to be there - to be in the place where our founder, St. Francis, lived and died. I came back to Rome on Monday. Today we head over to the Seraphicum, our International College, for a couple of days of workshop on the spirituality of St. Maximilian Kolbe. Then on Saturday I head out to the States. I have finished the following: Major John Andre: The Life and Death of the Famous Spymaster during the Revolutionary War by Charles River Editor Major John Andre was the British officer who was to negotiate with Benedict Arnold for the betrayal of West Point to the British during the Revolutionay War. He was arrested on his way back from his mission, carrying plans for the fort hidden on his person. He had wanted to return to British lines on the ship that had brought him up the Hudson, but that ship had been forced to move and he had to seek British lines dressed in civilian clothes (which branded him a spy). In spite of the fact that everyone considered him to be a gentleman of high quality, he was executed by being hung (in a conscious parallel to the execution of Nathan Hale). Killers of the King: the Men who dared to Execute Charles I by Charles Spencer This is an outline of the fate of those who executed King Charles I of England (a Stuart). A number of those most responsible were arrested, tried for treason and regicide, and hung, drawn and quartered ( a medieval horrendous form of execution). Some fled to Holland or Switzerland or America. Of these, some were found and killed or brought back for punishment. What complicated all of this is that the king had originally called upon the executioners of his father to give themselves, implying some form of amnesty. When it comes down to it, the king’s decision to find and try the killers of his father was no more brutal than the techniques used by those men (who often mouthed pious platitudes for their deeds). The Man who tried to redeem the World With Logic by Amanda Gefter This is the story of two men who tried to create an analytic map of the brain. They never succeeded because the brain functions in a much more complicated way than they expected. Nevertheless, their theoretical work was valuable for it helped create the logic network that shaped the creation of the modern computer. Moving On by Diane Cook This is an unusual story about a place where houses are set up for widows and widowers to mourn and be prepared for a future marriage. It is almost a dystopic world in which it seems to be illegal to be single. The houses are described as minimum security prisons. Yet, the woman who is the subject of the story mannages to survive and move on so that she is ready for a new marriage. American Legends: the Life of the Kingfish, Huey Long by Charles River Editors This is the history of one of the most controversial figures of the twentieth century. He was a populist politician from Lousiana who was both governor and senator (for a while both at the same time). He promised to make every man a king, equaling out the wealth of the people through social outreaches. Some thought him to be a dictator, others a savior. He did manage to quelch much of the corruption of the state, although others claimed (possibly falsely) that he simply funneled it into the pockets of his own supporters. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, October 9, 2017

Newark, NJ - Rome - La Verna - Italy

October 9, 2017 Peace and Good, I attended the funeral in Brooklyn of our friar Justin Biase. He died after a triple by-pass operation, and many friars attended his funeral (over 80). It was sad because Justin was beloved and also because we all felt that he died too soon. I came back to Rome and tried to work off my jet lag. This time it was very bad because I had crossed the Atlantic back and forth twice within three weeks. This past week the General Definitory went up to La Verna for a retreat with the definitories of the Friars Minor, the Capuchins and the TOR (all the groups of Franciscans). The preacher was Jean-Paul Vesco, a Dominican who is the bishop of Oran in Algeria. He spoke of a Christian approach to evangelization in countries where Christians are a small and sometimes persecuted minority. He based his apostolic approach on friendship with others. It was very good. Yesterday we came back to Rome for our General Definitory which we began after lunch today. We will continue until Friday evening. The morning was spent in writing reports. The weather has broken here in Rome and it is beginning to become cool. In La Verna (which is the mountain upon which St. Francis received the stigmata, the wounds of Christ) was very cold (as it almost always is). I finished some reading: The Punic Wars: the History of the Conflict that Destroyed Carthage and Made Rome a Global Power by Charles River Editors This is the history of the wars between Carthage and Rome (three of them before the destruction of the city). It speaks quite a bit about Hannibal, a great general for the Carthiginians. The Romans come across poorly in this account, which they should. They eventually won the war simply because they stubbornly refused to understand that they had lost, and they continued to raise new armies and fleets even when one after another was destroyed and sometime annihilated. Frankenstein: Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz This is a modern remake of the Frankenstein. The doctor still lives and is producing a race of new beings who he intends as an army to take over the world. He is being thwarted by the New Orleans police department, by Deucaleon, the first of his creatures which has rebelled against him, and by some of the other creatures he has created which are no longer doing his bidding. This is one of a series of books with similar themes from Koontz. The History of Cuba in 50 Events (History by Country Time) This is a short history of the island/country with 50 episodes that give an outline of what happened there throughout the ages. It is a short presentation, but it gives a good amount of information in a very compact format. The Last Train to Zona Verde by Paul Theroux Paul Theroux is famous as a travel author. This was not his first trip to Africa. He lived there teaching for several years. In this book, he is already 70 years old, and he sees it as his last trip to Africa. He intends to travel from South Africa to the north, possibly as far as Timbuktu. This is not his final destination, however, for reasons of wars and terrorism farther north. He goes as far as Angola, which for him is a bitter disappointment, given the ravages of war that one still sees everywhere and the blatant corruption that lives so many on the edge of life and others fabulously rich. His book ends with a chapter full of anger and disillusionment. The 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami by Charles River Editors This is one of the Charles River books, all under 100 pages. This one deals with the famous Boxing Day tsunami that killed so many people from Indonesia to the coast of Africa. Unlike most of the other Charles River books, this one is mostly personal remembrances of the terrible events, which in this case works very well. One Summer, America, 1927 by Bill Bryson This book is the story of the history of one year (especially from an American perspective). This was the year that Lindberg flew from New York to Paris non-stop and became a great hero in the States and also in Europe. It is the year when the Sacco and Vanzetti trial for terrorism went on. It is when Babe Ruth was at the peak of his fame and energy, as well as Lou Gerick. This was also the year that a group of international bankers made some decisions that led to the great depression. The story is well told, as are all of Bryson’s books. It is well worth reading. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Buffalo, NY - Alfreton, England - Rome - Newark

September 27, 2017 Peace and Good, The funeral for my niece, Jillian, went very well. A good number of the family was there, and even though there had been no obituary, the chapel was full. It was a great consolation. Last week I was back in Alfreton at the Hayes Conference Centre for the second part of the provincial chapter. I played a role that I had not really expected. On Saturday, fr. Justin Biase, an ex-provincial of the Immaculate Conception Province (which is now part of my own province, Our Lady of Angels) had a major heart attack after a triple by-pass operation. I called our provincial and suggested that it might be a good idea for him to remain in the States and not go to England for the second part of the chapter. I could cover for him. He agreed, and it was for the best for fr Justin eventually passed away. Justin was a truly good man, beloved by those with whom he came into contact. The second part of the chapter went very well. The friars made a decision to accept an invitation to serve at the National Marian Shrine of Walsingham. This shrine dates back to 1061, and was destroyed by Henry VIII. It was rebuilt in the past century both by Anglicans and Catholics. This gives us a great opportunity to serve both Catholics and Anglicans. I was very pleased that the friars wanted this. The custody of Great Britain has had a rough time in these years, but recently it has been doing quite well. This chapter seemed to be a turning point. It is no longer just surviving. It is preparing for the future - dreaming! Something very, very good happened last week. By the end of last week, fr. Justin had passed away. It meant that I had to fly to Rome on Saturday for a meeting that evening, and then fly out again on Sunday to Newark. The funeral was yesterday in Brooklyn. It was very important for me to be there, and the friars were very appreciative. Tomorrow I fly back to Rome. I finished some reading: The Civilian Conservation Corps: The History of the New Deal’s Famous Jobs Program during the Great Depression by Charles River Editors My father and uncle were in the CCC, so this book especially interested me. It was a New Deal program to give jobs to youths so that they would find a bit of hope and they could help their families to survive. The pay was low, and the work was mostly conservation and park construction. Yet, if one travels to any of our National Parks, one is bound to find a shelter or trail or something else that they built. Gettysburg: A History for the People by John Cox This is a rather complete account of the battle of Gettysburg. The telling reaches to level of the brigades and regiments, as well as calling upon personal accounts from the battle. It is a good history book, but can be a bit tedious for someone who is not fascinated by all things historical. The Forbidden City: The History of the Chinese Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing by Charles River Editors This is the account of the construction and the maintenance of the Forbidden City in Beijing. This was the home of the emperor and his entensive retenue. It is a major tourist attraction today. The Irish Potato Famine by Charles River Editors This short book gives an outline of the tragedy of the Potato blight in Ireland in the 19th century that led to over one million deaths and countless more emigrating to the US, Canada and Australia. It also tells of the furiously poor response of the British government to this crises, for much of what they did actually made the disaster worse. Rotten Ice by Gretel Ehrlich This is a science short story in which the author accompanies residents of Greenland in their hunts for walrus and seals upon the ice off the shore. Over the years, the ice has become thinner and more dangerous. This has destroyed a hunter-gatherer form of life lived by these people. This is obviously a reference to the effects of global warming upon the ice pack that holds much of the world’s fresh water supply. The Assassination of President James Garfield by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the death of President James Garfield, the second president to be assassinated in the United States. He was killed by a mentally disturbed man who thought that he was due an important posting in the diplomatic corp. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Alfreton, Gt. Britain - London - Buffalo, NY

September 13, 2017 Peace and Good, We had a week of custodial chapter in a conference center in Alfreton, Derbyshire. The center was very, very good. Each meal had four choices for the main course. The facilities were clean and up to date. The grounds were magnificent. The only down side was that it rained every single day (although usually not the entire day). The meeting went well. One of my former students from Romania, Ciprian Budau, was elected as the custos of this jurisdiction. He is a good, humble man and I believe he will do a fine job. On Friday, we finished the first part of the meeting. We then travelled to London, and I flew out to Buffalo the next day. I will be here until Saturday when I fly back to London for the second part of the meeting. I am in Buffalo for the funeral of my niece, Jillian Ingoldsby. Please keep her and her family in your prayers. We are still not quite sure how she died, but it was under suspicious circumstances. We will have a Memorial Mass on this coming Saturday morning. The weather in Buffalo is tremendous, almost summerlike. That is so unusual for this time of year in Buffalo. I finished some reading: Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age gave birth to the First Humans by Brian Fagan This is an account of various remains and cultures of Cro-Magnon man, our ancestor here upon the earth. The author begins with the Neanderthals and their possible interactions with Cro-Magnon man. Neanderthals, although a distant relative of humanity, was not in a direct line. That group of individuals died out, although scientists have found some Neanderthal DNA in humans, which would indicate that there was at least some interbreding. I am reading this at the same time I am reading a book on the residents of the Kalahari desert called the Old Way, and it is fascinating how much information the two books share in hunting and weapons techniques. The Great Fire of London in 1666 by Walter George Bell This is an extensive account both of the great fire of London in 1666 and its aftermath. The fire raged through most of the city, and left countless thousands homeless. Some of the great treasures in the city were rescued, but so many of them were lost in the fire. The city, when rebuilt, was no longer an amalgamation of wooden structures, but was built of brick and stone with wider byways to help fight fire in the futre. Fingerprints by Justin Bigos This is a short story of a man’s relationship, such as it is, with his alcoholic father (divorced from his mother). The father comes from a Jehovah Witness background, but he is now living pretty much on the street. He has a bad habit of showing up in the son’s house, his work, etc and stealing various things to survive. There is a real sense of sadness and ennui about this story. Tracking Ivory by Christy Bryan This is a science short story in which the author has a number of false ivory tusks manufactured with transmitters embedded within to be able to track the movement of ivory in Africa. He discovers that the tusks quickly end up in the Sudan where they were then to be transhipped to their ultimate destination. The sale of ivory finances terrorism (including that of the Lord’s Liberation Army in northern Uganda) and poaching of other elephants with modern weapons. They Helped Erase Ebola in Liberia, Now Liberia Is Erasing Them by Helene Cooper This is the story of the treatment that a group of young men received after they were hired to cremate the bodies of ebola victims during the epidemic in Liberia. Rather than being treated as heroes who saved that society from disaster, they were treated as periahs because cremation was seen as such a taboo in a society that strongly emphasizes rites which honor the dead. Aylin by Ayse Kulin This is a very odd book about a beautiful Turkish woman who becomes a psychiatrist. She is very, very successful in her profession, but much less so in her personal life. She was divorced four times, often precipatating the divorce and then blaming her partner on the results of her own choices. She eventually even joins the army where she counsels Iraq war veterans. She dies a mysterious death which might be an assassination by any one of a number of people who would have liked to see her dead. The author goes out of her war to say how wonderful this woman is, but the protrait given does not match the words of praise. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Cherso (Croatia) - Rome - Alfreton (Great Britain)

September 6, 2017 Peace and Good, A couple of weeks ago I returned from the definitory's vacation on Cherso, an island off the coast of Croatia. It was a wonderful trip, very quiet and nowhere near as hot as Rome had been in August. This past week we had a definitory. That is usually quite a long one because there is all the business that piled up during the summer. Fortunately, it was not all that bad this year. On Sunday I flew into London for the custodial chapter here in Great Britain. I will be here until Saturday when I will fly to Buffalo. Originally, I was going to stay here for the coming week, but my family received very bad news that my niece Jillian passed away. I would ask you to please keep her in your prayers. This week I am in Alfreton. It is a beautiful conference center in central southern England. The weather, though, is definitely British. It has rained every day so far. The chapter has been going very well so far, even if there were a couple of glitches to iron out (there always are at chapters). I finished some reading: The Drive on Moscow 1941 by Niklas Zetterling and Anders Frankson This is an outline of the German attempt to take Moscow from the moment that Hitler made the decision to make a final push on the Soviet capital in the fall of 1941 until the moment that this push stalled and was reversed due to a powerful Soviet counter-offensive. The author sticks to the facts on both sides of the story, and presents the reasons why certain moves by either party either succeeded or failed. He premises that the failure of the offensive was due both to horrible weather (mud, and then a great freeze) and the husbanding of resources by the Soviets so that they could make a big push against the invading army. The Black Death: The World’s Most Devastating Plague by Dorsey Armstrong This is a 24 lecture series from the Teaching Company on the Black Death (or the great mortality as it was called during the Middle Ages). This was actually one of three great plagues of Bubonic/Pneumonic/Septicemic Plague over the centuries: during the reign of the Emperor Justinian, in the Middle Ages, and at the end of the 19th century in China and India. The author examines the scientific explanations, the various theories for the cause of its great mortality figure, the political and social consequences of the plague, its representation in painting and literature, etc. Critical Conditions by Stephen White A young girl is found with bloody clothes hidden in her room and a bloody gun in her bathroom. Shortly afterwards, the head of a health insurance company who has denied coverage for a treatment of the girl’s sister is found shot dead. The book is from the point of view of the psychiatrist who has to unravel the mystery of what happened in spirte of the fact that the girl refuses to talk. There are a number of twists and spins in the story which turns out to be more gruesome that one first suspected. It is well written. The Guillotine: the History of the World’s Most Notorious Methods of Execution by Charles River Editors This is one of those short accounts of the invention and the use of the guillotine. Ironically, this machine for execution was invented due to the efforts of Dr. Guillotine toward the end of the reign of King Louis XVI as a means of executing prisoners in a more humane manner (thus doing away with hanging, torture, etc.). It was eventually used throughout France and Germany, but did not spread to too many other countries. The Road to Jerusalem by Jan Buillou This is the story of a boy in Sweden who is sent to a monastery when he is miraculously saved from death after an accident. There he learns many useful skills in agriculture, cooking, building, and warfare that he eventually brings back to his homeland. There he is treated as a bit of a sissy and freak until he masterfully shows his skills at fighting. He is eventually exiled to the Holy Land to serve as a Knight as a penalty for having broken some scritural laws. Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey-Williams This is not a scientific study, but more of an overview of the discovery of various elements of the periodic table and their use in our daily world. The author provides some interesting information about the process of doing scientific analysis which lead to the finding of many of these elements. He is filled with a sense of wonder at the texture and color of these various minerals. He travels to places where these elements were discovered. He also deals with the invention of the periodic table by Mendeleev. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Rome - Cherso (Croatia)

August 24, 2017 Peace and Good, My time baby sitting the Curia in Rome has come to an end. This Monday the entire General Definitory drove from Rome to Cherso, an island off the coast of Croatia, where there is a large friary. We are spending a week here together. It is very relaxing, and the weather is so much better than Rome. The weather in Rome has been incredibly hot and humid. Here we are only a couple of blocks from the sea (the Adriatic) and there is a breeze coming off the water almost the entire day, and the night gets so cool that one actually needs a blanket. It has been very restful, and I have been able to pray well here. We will be here until next Monday. Then it will be back to Rome for a week where we will have a definitory meeting. I have finished some reading: The British Empire by Stephen Sears This is a long series of essays dealing with the rise and fall of the British Empire. They are written from a British perspective. I find that even when the author tries to be impartial, he almost always slips into a pro-English viewpoint concerning various issues. Nevertheless, it was worth reading. Back to the Land by Chelsea Diondolillo This is an odd very short short story. It tells of the arrival at a body farm in Texas where the custodians are doing two experiments: seeing how long it takes for the sun to mumify a body and seeing what vultures do to a body left to their devices. As gruesome as the scene is, the author finds a bit of beauty in the image of the ground covered with migrating monarch butterflies as it is every spring. Caesar is Dead by Jack Lindsay This is the story of the assassination of Julius Caesar and his eventual succession by Octavian, his nephew. This is a historical fiction which paints the various figures in large strokes. Some of the action is melodramatical, but overall it makes the drama more realistic (instead of simply giving a bunch of dates and events). Doctors: The History of Scientific Medicine Revealed Through Biography by Professor Sherwin B. Nuland, M.D. This was a series of twelve lectures from the Teaching Company to outline the growth in scientific medicine throughout the centuries by presenting the biographies of major figures in the history of medicine. This includes people such as Hypocritus, Gallen in ancient times, and more modern figures such as the inventor of antisceptic surgery, anesthesis, and pediatric cardiac care. Overall, the presentations were informative and thorough. They included not only the developments credited to each particular figure, but also a bit of that person’s life story. It was a good way to present the overall message. Phelps, M. William Nathan Hale by M. William Phelps This is the story of the famous patriot in George Washington’s army who was captured by the British and hung as a spy. He is quoted as saying that he regreted that he had only one life to give for his country. That is probably not exactly what he said, but it is close enough. His biographer paints him as a highly religious man from Connecticut. He was a graduate of Yale and a school teacher who responded to the call to duty immediately at the beginning of the war for indipendence. He became a Captain, and volunteered for reconnaissance work behind the British lines (even though this type of work was looked down upon by colonials). Captured by a famous and vicious Tory, he was quickly put to death for his services to his country. Pirates: the Golden Age of Piracy by Hourly History Limited This is a series of books that I obtained either for free for for a small charge on my Kindle about history. This particular one is not all that well written. It tries to outline thousands of years of the history of piracy in a few pages, and does not treat any given topic with the attention that it deserves. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


August 16, 2017 Peace and Good, I has been a quiet couple of weeks here in Rome. I am at Santi Apostoli to babysit the General Curia. Most of the friars are away on vacation and someone has to be here to respond to any official request that we receive, such as a call from the Vatican. So far there have only been a couple of phone calls from various parties that needed my attention. The weather is hot, hot, hot. This is true every year in August, and most Italians try to get out of the city to go either to the shore or to the mountains. A number of restaurants and stores even close down for holidays in these weeks. We had a little excitement this past week. Some people squatted in our basilica. They had been kicked out of the building where they had been living illegally, so they chose our basilica to publicize their need. They are mostly immigrants from various countries including Romania and Bolivia. When they first arrived, there was a shouting match between the police and the organizers. Since then, they have pitched their tents in the atrium of the Basilica. Fr. Bruno, who is a real saint, has been providing them with coffee and cookies. We don't want to give them too much lest they become too comfortable there, but we want to show them sympathy and help a little. The city is supposed to be taking care of the situation, but most of the city workers are away these weeks on vacation, so everything is draggin on. I will be here in Rome another week, and then the General Definitory is going together to an island off of Croatia named Cherso in Italian where we will spend a week vacation together. I have finished some reading: Gamal Adel Nasser: The Life and Legacy of Egypt’s Second President by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of the life of Nasser, the father of Pan-Arabism and the leader of his country’s path to independence. While not truly a democratic person, for he persecuted any opposition in his own country, he nevertheless tried to modernize his country as much as he could (given the almost inate tendency in Egypt for corruption at every level of the government). He had a vicious hatred for the State of Israel, and led his country in an ill fated war against the Jewish state in 1967 that led to utter defeat in only a few days. The Roman Pantheon: the History and Legacy of Rome’s Famous Landmark by Charles River Editors I have often visited the Pantheon, and have never been all that impressed with the building. I knew that Agrippa, the friend of Augustus Caesar, began its construction, but this book told me its subsequent history. It is the largest unsupported dome built up to the Renaissance. This construction was possible due to an important Roman discovery: cement. It was completely rebuilt by the emperor Hadrian, who was a devout follower of the Greek philosophy of Pythagorus. This is why there are any number of significant structures in the building based upon numbers which the Phthagorians considered to be important. I will look upon the building with much more attention and respect in the future. The History of Ancient Rome by Garrett Fagan This is a 36 lecture series upon the history of Rome from its foundation until the reign of Constantine the Great. Garrett Fagan is a good and entertaining lecturer. He presents a clear portrait of the material without inserting his own opinion in too often. If he does voice his preferences, he backs his argument up sufficiently. The series includes lectures on periods of time, on individuals and on institutions and classes of society during the Roman days. I would highly recommend this series. Dead Irish by John Lescroat A young man in the prime of his life is murdered or commits suicide in Boston. An investigator, whose full time occupation is bartender, agrees to try to prove that this was murder to assist the widow in receiving her life insurance payment. There are a number of twists and turns in the story. This is the first book by Lescroat that I have read. It was an abridged edition, and one of the few abridged versions that I have read or listened to that showed some bad editing. Furthermore, being a priest, I did not like his treatment of a main character who is the parish priest. I found his treatment pedestrian and shallow. I will give him another try, but… The Sepoy Rebellion of 1857 by Charles River Editors This is an account of the rebellion of Indian troops in India just as the East India Company which actually controlled the country was getting ready to hand authority over to the British crown. Both sides exacted terrible punishment on the other. It was during this rebellion that the famous black hole of Calcutta affair took place. The British were not above massacuring entire villages: men, women and children. Shalom fr. Jude

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Terre Haute, IN - Minneapolis, MN - Arroyo Grande, CA - Carey, OH - Ellicott City, MD - Rome

August 3, 2017 Peace and Good, I hope you are all well. These past couple of weeks I finished off the visitation of Our Lady of Consolation Province in the MidWest. I also visited California to be present for the investiture of our new novices. Investiture means the day when the new novices first put on their habit. The Ellicott City stop was almost an overnight to visit my dentist. I am midway in the process of having a dental implant, and my dentist has done a great job to fit my schedule into the treatment plan. Rome has been very, very hot these days. It is making the jet lag worse, and I suspect it will take a bit of time to get over it this time.. The visitation is a great process. I get to speak with all of the friars and find out how things are going with them. At the end of the visitation, I make a report for us here in Rome and for the friars in the province as they get ready for their provincial chapter. I am baby sitting at the Curia right now. Most of the friars are out on vacation, and someone from the definitory has to be around just in case there is a call from the Vatican. There is little chance of this because almost everyone at the Vatican is on vacation as well. I have finished some books: The 1918 Spanish Fly Pandemic: The History and Legacy of the World’s Deadliest Influenza Outbreak by Charles River Editors This was one of the most deadly outbreaks of flu in the history of mankind. It must be admitted that it cannot even compare with the lethality of outbreaks of smallpox or Ebola, but nevertheless it wrecked havoc at the end of World War I. In fact, it is believed that more people died from this illness than were killed during the war itself. There have been constant scientific debates over the cause of its lethality. Was it because the population was weakened by hunger due to the war, or was it an especially virulent strain? We are still not sure. Testimony by Anita Shreve This is a very good book which is presented as a series of reports by witnesses to a scandal at a boarding school. It is seen from the point of view of the perpetrators of what amounts to a rape, the victim, the school headmaster, the family of one of the rapists, etc. The story is tragic, and has a number of twists and turns that leave one stunned. It is not a book to read when one is feeling down. It is a painful story, but not gratuitously so. Sketches of Jewish Social Life in the Days of Christ by Alfred Edersheim This is a very good treatment of the world of Israel in the days of Jesus. It is a very dated book, and many of the proposals would have to be updated. Yet there are gems of information contained here and there in the book. It was worth reading, but with the understanding that a more recent book would probably be more useful. Those who held Bastogne by Peter Schrijvers This is a thorough retelling of the siege of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. It gives a large amount of detail about the attitudes of both the American troops and the Germans (although the author tends to show much less sympathy toward the Germans, which is understandable). A very good dimension of the book is his treatment of the plight of the civilians during the battle. The book probably gives a bit more detail than most people would appreciate, unless one were really into the topic. The Virgin of Guadalupe by Gustavo Vazquez Lozano and Charles River Editors This is a short study of the immage of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the story of its origin. The authors are fair in their telling of the story, without being overly credulous or skeptical. I appreciated this approach. While there are no contemporary written accounts of the events, the accounts written many years later are consistent with traces of information that are available. While the image might have been touched up and slightly changed later in its history, it nevertheless is remarkable and considered to be miraculous by so many of those who have visited its basilica. A number of years ago I had that opportunity, and I was very, very impressed by the faith of the people there. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Mount St. Francis, IN - Clarksville, IN - Louisville, IN - Terre Haute, IN

July 15, 2017 Peace and Good, All is well in the heartland. I have been travelling around southern Indiana and northern Kentucky visiting the friars of Our Lady of Consolation Province. They are good men who really try to live a simple life style. The greatest difficulty is that the friars are growing older quickly. Their average age is over 72, and that has consequences on the number of ministries they can handle, etc. The friars are very open to discussing the various needs that they face now and those they will face in the near future. It has been hot, and unusually raining for mid July. There has even been minor flooding in this area. Today I fly on to Minnesota to continue the visitation there. Then early in the week another trip out to California. I have finished some books: The Eruption of Mount St. Helens by Charles River Editors This is another of the Charles River Editors studies of various events and people. These are excellent short overviews of the topics. This one speaks of the time before and during the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. I visited the site about five years after the event, and was incredibly impressed by the destruction caused by this eruption. The Drillmaster of Valley Forge: The Baron de Steuben and the Making of the American Army by Paul Lockhart This is the story of a German general who came to the US during the revolutionary war and trained the American troops in French and Prussian military drills. This added a great amount of stability to a flatering army, especially during the days of Valley Forge. He remained with the army until the end of the revolutionary war, but continued to live in penury due to his own spending habits but especially due to the lack of gratitude on the part of the Continental Congress (who, to be fair, were sinking under the debts of the revolution with no way to address their need for money). Emma Goldman: The Life and Legacy of the Famous Feminist Icon by Charles River Editors I have always been interested in this unusual figure. Born a Russian Jew, she emigrated to the States and worked with the anarchist movement. She was the girlfriend of Alexander Berkman who tried to assassinate the head of US Steel. She fought for feminist rights and against the involvement of the US in World War I (for which she served time in prison). She was deported along with a shipload of other communist sympathizers to Russia, but quickly left there when she became disenchanted with what she saw of the establishment of the Bolshivik government. She died in France at the beginning of World War I. The Ruins of the Roman Empire by James O’Donnell This is a rambling account of the fall of the Roman Empire in the West. Rather than falling to a series of barbarian invasions, the author presents the fall as gradual and due to the continuous migration of various Germanic tribes into the territory of the Romans. Rather than being total barbarians, many of them were partially assimilated allies of the Romans who simply went from mercenary status to that of taking over control of the situation. He also speaks of the situation in Byzantium and the moves of Justinian to re-establish the empire (which he soundly condemns). He also covers the weakness of the eastern empire due to religious controversies among Christians which left that part of the empire open to the Arab invasion. Overall, the book is good, but the author has some very strong opinions here and there. The English Civil War by Hourly History Limited This is an overview of the various wars that were fought to overthrow the Stuart regime in Great Britain in the late 17th century and the rise of Oliver Cromwell. It is one of the short versions of the story, not unlike the books produced by the Charles River Editors. These endeavors give a good overview of the material in a form that allows for a quick study. The Sea Peoples: The Mysterious Nomads who Ushered in the Iron Age by Charles River Editors This is the story of the Sea Peoples who seems to have been a mix of nomads (by sea and land) who were the early Greeks. They are most famous to us by the fact that they included the Philistines who were such a bane to the early Israelites. They conquered many lands including the Hittite Empire, largely through their advanced military tactics. They were eventually defeated by the forces of the Pharaoh in Egypt, but not before they caused great destruction throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Rome - Mount St. Francis, IN

July 4, 2017 Peace and Good, Happy Independence Day! I spent the past week in Rome at our definitory. We actually finished a bit early, so I was able to work on a couple of projects. One was to get ahead in daily podcast reflections since I will be travelling a lot this month. I was quite successful on that. The other was to do some editing for an Asian Christian magazine that is being published by our Theological Faculty in Rome. I am the English editor of the magazine, and some of the authors really don't know English grammar all that well. On Saturday I was able to finish the second last article for a publication coming out later this year. In these next weeks, I must finish the last one. On Sunday I flew from Rome to Dallas and then on to Louisville. In June I did a visitation of the houses of Our Lady of Consolation Province in the Southwest. Now I am starting the Midwest portion of the province. I will be in the States until the end of the month when I then head back to Rome. The weather in Rome has been uncommonly hot and humid until the last day I was there. Then suddenly the humidity broke and we had a great day. That evening we had a cook out on the fourth floor terrazza of our friary, and it was a glorious evening. I finished some reading in these days: Batavia by Peter Fitzsimons This is the true story of a ship wreck in the islands off Australia in the 17th century The boat was a treasure boat on its way to Jakarta to bring money to buy the spices that were so important for the Dutch East India Company. While the admiral in charge of the boat takes sailors on a four week trip to seek assistance in Jakarta, a band of unscrupulous pirate like mutineers seizes control and begin to cull men, women and children in order to cut down the numbers so that those who remain might survive. The murders take on their own logic, however, as the band becomes more tyranical and murderous. It is an awful story that leaves one truly shaken. Consent to Kill by Vince Flynn This is the first novel by Vince Flynn that I have read. I have seen his name and titles for his books, so I was interested in reading this book. It is about an American anti-terrorist Rambo type figure who is fighting against the Islamic attack on this country. The evil figure in the book is the minister of cult in Saudi Arabia who is secretly funding an attempt to assassinate the hero. As a spy novel, it was quite good and avoids some of the more egregious mistakes of some of the other authors in this genre. Deng Ziaoping: A Revolutionary Life by Alexander Pantsov This is an extensive biography of the leader of China after Mao. It gives an honest appraisal of the figure, including the good elements as well as the bad (which verge on the evil). It shows how he manages to survive a number of falls from grace, and how he tried to balance his life and his politics in order to survive in the Kafkaesque era of Mao. The book gives a good overview of the infighting before, during and after the Maoist communist era. A Case of Need by Michael Crichton This is an older novel, written when Abortion was illegal in most states. It takes place in Boston, and a pathologist at a hospital investigates the accusation against a fellow doctor that he performed an abortion that resulted in the death of a young woman. The doctor blamed does perform secret abortions, but he is not the one who performed this abortion. The complicating factor is that the young woman is the daughter of an old Boston family who have considerable pull in the city. Roman Britain by Henry Freeman This book speaks of the inhabitants and culture of the inhabitants of Roman Britain before the invasions of Julius Caesar (unsuccessful) and that of Claudius Caesar (successful). It tries to identify the inhabitants of Britain before the arrival of the Romans (which is quite difficult), it speaks of how Roman culture was already quite present even before the Romans arrived, and it deals with how the Romans did and did not affect the culture of the British Isles. Insomnia by Stephen King This is a rather long book which deals with an elderly man and woman who are suffering from insomnia. This leads them to be able to see the auras that surround people around them. They also encounter three mysterious figures who are like the Fates of Greek myths. Two of them are neutral harvesters of those who are dying, but one is evil and capricious. The novel is intertwined with the story of an abortion proponent who is coming to Darey to give a speech, and the attempt of radical anti-abortionists to stop her at any cost. The book presupposes other levels of reality which the two elderly heroes are able to enter due to their gifts received as recompense for the insomnia. Hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Rome - Assisi - Rome - London - Canterbury - London

May 24, 2017 Peace and Good, The beginning of this week I was up in Assisi for a meeting of the definitory with the Presidents of the various federations of friars throughout the world (they are divided up into seven sections). I was there until noon on Wednesday when I took the train down to Rome so that I could catch a plane to London the next morning. I then went to Canterbury on Friday for the closing of the Theological Institute there. I had taught there a number of terms over the years. I got to see one of my classmates from the Biblicum where I graduated in 1984. The celebration was quite nice, and I have been able to talk with a number of the friars from the custody to get a read of what they are thinking as they prepare for their custodial chapter this September. I head back to Rome tomorrow afternoon where we start a week of Definitory. We had a couple of important decisions to make concerning our provincial in Naples. Things are not going very well there, so the General Definitory appointed a provincial to work on getting things in line with what they should be. We very, very rarely do this, but this was one case where an intervention was needed. Normally, we try to make our interventions in a less obtrusive manner (and I have been a member of the team to intervene over the past couple of years). I have finished some reading: The Hittites by Charles River Editors The Hittites were a great Middle Eastern civilization just before the Biblical era. They resided in Anatolia, what is today Turkey. Relatively little was known of them until relatively recently. What we do know is mostly from archeological remains that have been excavated. They were destroyed by various factors, but especially by the invasion of a Barbarian group known as the Sea Peoples. The Broken Window by Jeffrey Deaver This is one of the Lincoln Rhymes novels. This one involves a murderer who gets his information on his random victims from data entry and data farming companies. He is able to frame various innocent victims in his deluded quest. The thing that trips him up is that he frames Lincoln’s cousin for one of the murders, and Lincoln and his team are slowly able to sort it all out (but not without considerable danger for the murderer declares war on the members of the team. The Mohawk by Charles River Editors This is a short presentation of the Mohawk tribe which, at the time of the colonies, resided in what is today upper New York State and southern Quebec and Ontario. They were part of the five (later six) nations of the Iroquois Federation (whose agreement of confederacy was used by the Founding Fathers as they developed our way of government. The presentation is an honest short overview of their history and culture. Blood Game by Iris Johansen This is a detective novel mixed with some paranormal phenomena such as communicating with ghosts and evil masterminds who think that they are vampires. The style is not all that bad, but I really can’t say that I would read a lot of her books in the future. The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary by Robert Alter This is a new translation of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) along with a literary, linguistic commentary on the material. The author has now translated most of the Hebrew Bible. His original job was literary critic, and he has used those skills along with a masterful knowledge of Hebrew and of the Jewish interpretation of Scripture throughout the centuries to give this new and insightful version of these books. I would recommend any of his books for those interested in Bible study at a higher level. If you want to start, the first book you could read by this author is the Art of Biblical Narrative. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Mt. St. Francis, IN - Mesilla Park, NM - El Paso, TX - San Antonio, TX - Rome

June 12, 2017 Peace and Good, I have now returned for a whirlwind trip to the States. It began with my attendance at the funeral of one of our friars, Juniper Cummings. He was 92 years old, and had been an Assistant General, a Provincial, a Custos in Zambia, etc. His death was the end of an era for his province. I was glad that my travel agent was able to change my ticket and arrange for my travel there. On Saturday after the funeral I flew down to New Mexico to begin my canonical visitation of Our Lady of Consolation. Most of the province is located in the Midwest, but part of it is in the Southwest. There are three friaries scattered through New Mexico and Texas, and I visited them this past week. I will visit the rest of the province in July. I have been at all of these friaries a number of times over the years, so it is like coming home again. One of the friaries is a retreat house (with friars involved in other apostolates living there), one a parish for the Native American and Hispanic people in El Paso, and one a house of formation. The weather was very hot, which got me ready for the heat wave going on in Rome right now. I returned yesterday morning. I am still in the arms of jet lag, but that is pretty much par for the course. I finished some reading: E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton This is the fifth novel about a private detective who is investigating an arson. She is accused of trying to cover up the crime. One of the suspects is murdered by a bomb, and then another is killed in another way. The detective is almost killed twice during the course of the story. Grafton presents a very likeable character in the person of the detective, and the action in her stories is always well done. The Goddess of Small Victories by Yannick Grannec This is a very strange, very good novel about an elderly woman who was born in Vienna before the war. There she met a mathematical genius who suffered from mental illness. The book outlines their lives together as it also tells the story of an archival researcher who is seeking the written records of her deceased husband. The woman is not the easiest person in the world, but a relationship develops which enriches both of them. The History of the Supreme Court by Peter Irons This is a Teaching Company course on the history of the supreme court. The course is a set of 36 lectures, talking about judges, what is happening in the country, and the actual cases. The lecturer is an excellent presenter. He shows his prejudice here and there, but he is always clear to identify when that is taking place. This is a very good overview on the topic. Mind vs. Machine by Brian Christian This article speaks about the Turing test, a contest in which a group of people have conversations with real people and with computers which have been programmed with artificial intelligence. They then try to determine who was the real person and who was the computer. The computer programs are reaching the point where it is becoming more and more difficult to figure out which is which. Mount Dragon by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child I have read a few of the books produced by this team of authors. The others were either about a detective living in New York who was originally from New Orleans or a science fiction production. This one is about a genetic engineering project that goes array. These authors have a way of producing a riveting story with moments of genius in their forms of expression. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Rome - Mt. St. Francis, IN

June 1, 2017 Peace and Good, I hope that all of your are well. I spent the last few days in Rome doing some writing projects and getting caught up on paper work. I had intended on being there until this coming Saturday, but one of the friars in Our Lady of Consolation Province passed away and it was important for me to attend his funeral. His name was fr. Juniper Cumminngs, and he died in a nursing home in Minnesota at 92 years of age. He had been an Assistant General, the Provincial of his home province, the Custos of the Custody of St. Francis in Zambia, the Rector of the Seminary for their province, and the rector of the Shrine in Carey, Ohio. He was a kind and generous man, always joyful. I am attending his second funeral here in Mt. St. Francis, IN, just across the river from Louisville. Then, on Saturday, I will fly down to El Paso where I will spending a week doing a visitation of three friaries in that area in preparation for their provincial chapter next year. The trip yesterday was a bit of a jumble. When I got to the airport, the flight that was to take me to the States (Dallas) was already over two hours late. They booked me on another flight through Charlotte, but when I got there, I was three hours late because of thunder storms in the area. That is what happens with summer travel, especially later in the day. I got here, though, and tonight there is a wake service and tomorrow the funeral Mass. I finished some reading: The 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the destruction of the cities of Tokyo and Yokohama by earthquake and fire in 1923. The Charles River authors are former MIT students who got together and have produced a series of short topic books. It is almost like a lengthened form of Wikopaedia. Zoo Station by David Downing This is a book about an English reported living in Berlin just before World War II. The end of the book coincides, in fact, with the takeover of the Czech republic by the Nazis. The reporter has a German ex-wife and son, and we hear about the strained relationship with his son was he is more and more nazified. In the meantime, the reporter risks everything to help a Jewish family get out of Germany. The topic reminded me a lot of the books of Alan Furst, one of my favorite authors. A Disposition to be Rich by Geoffrey Ward This is the story of the son of a Presbyterian missionary to India who became an investor on Wall Street. His partner in this enterprise was the son of ex-President Grant. Grant invested in his fund, and lost everything that he had. It turns out that the investor was a bit of a sociopath who created a big Ponzi scheme. He was eventually sent to prison for ten years. The whole time he was there, he played the martyr, blaming everyone but himself. The book is quite good, although the coverage of his parents years in India is longer than it really needed to be. The irony is that the book was written by the great grandson of the investor. The Crypto-Currency by Joshua Davis This is an article that speaks about the invention and use of Bitcoins, a currency that was invented by a computer programmer that does not have any authority, but which is traded and used for commerce throughout the world. Its only value is what it receives in its trades. The author tries unsuccessfully to identify its reclusive inventor. It is an interesting idea, but until some nation actually back up the currency, it is doubtful that it will have a lasting value. Dream Machine by Rivka Galchen This is the story of a theorist in Great Britain who has spoken of the possibility of inventing a quantum computer. Normal computers communicate in a series of choices between yes and no. This one would have a third choice, both yes and no at the same time. That would allow for an incredible number of possibilities to be evaluated at the same time, thus speeding up the process in an incredible manner. Some prototypes at a very primitive level are already being tried. Machiavelli in Context by William Cook This is a teaching company course on the writings of Machiavelli. He is best known for his work, “The Prince.” His name has given rise to the adjective “Machiavellian,” which means unscrupulous, conniving, etc. Yet, Cook shows that while one could question some of his conclusions, Machiavelli was at heart a republican. He places him in the context of his society (16th century Florence) in an Italy that was torn by divisions (especially after the invasion of the French army). Cook also studies Machiavelli’s other writings, including his history of Florence and his discourses upon the writings of Livi. Cook also produced a course on St. Francis, and both of these courses are enlightening. Have a good week Shalom fr. Jude Winkler

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Assisi - Rome

May 22, 2017 Peace and Good, Our meeting in Assisi went very well. When I got home to Rome, I was able to work up a set of minutes for the three day meeting along with a number of different addenda from other side meetings that we had in those days. This last week has been a meeting of our monthly definitory. This time the agenda was not packed, so we actually finished early. Today I have a couple of writing project that I must finish if possible, and tomorrow morning I head out to Padua for a few meetings on various topics. Padua is up in the north, not too far from Venice. It is only a few hours by train. I will meet with the editors of the magazine for which I write (the Messenger of St. Anthony) and then with the heads of the charity organization called Caritas Antoniana to see whether they might be able to help Franciscans International. One of my jobs is to be a liason between various groups to help each of them do its job better. The weather has turned quite warm. We have even had early summer thunderstorms in these days. We have a new guardian in our community: fr. Francesco Celestino. He is from Calabria, the toe of the boot of Italy. He was the custos down there, but their chapter was coming up and his job there would have ended. Our previous guardian was called back by his home province so that he might be the vicar (number two man) there. I have finished some books and articles: History of Hitler’s Empire by Thomas Childers This is a teaching company course (twelve lectures) on the history of the rise and fall of Hitler’s regime. This topic could easily have used double the lectures, for some of the stading lectures seem a bit rushed and enormous amounts of detail are sandwitched into the available space. Nevertheless, the presentations are good and thoughtful. In the Dark of the Night by John Saul This is a horror story in which a doctor collects the implements that mass murderers used to conduct their evil task. He dismantles them so that they will lose their mystic power. After he died, his lake side house is rented out to a family, and their son and his friends begin to reassemble the objects which reacquire their power which results in a series of murders. This is the first time I have read something written by John Saul, and I have to say I liked his style and would read more of his writings. The Bully Pulpit by Doris Dearns Goodwin This is a rather long account of the relationship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft. They started out the best of friends, but ended up running for president against each other in 1912 when Roosevelt bolted from the party and formed a progressive party. They fought against each other, ending in the election of Wilson. The relationship was only healed much later. Ostensively, the title of the book has to do with Roosevelt’s relationship with the press. That is handled well, but it is not really the central topic of the book. Nevertheless, the book is well worth reading. Lonely Vigil: Coast watchers of the Solomons by Walter Lord Lord is famous for writing well-resourced accounts of events such as the sinking of the Titanic or the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk during World War II. This is another World War II account about the coast watchers (Australian, British and American) who resided on islands in the Solomon chain (in which one finds Guadalcanal) and reported to those higher up the movement of ships and planes. This gave timely warning to bases that were about to be bombed or to contingents that might have to defend themselves against enemy troop landings. This was a highly dangerous work, often behind enemy lines. One had to deal with jungle and sometimes hostile local populations (although many of the locals gave heroic assistance to the coast watchers). This is a true story that reads like a spy novel. Ivory’s Ghosts: The White Gold of History and the Fate of Elephants by John Frederick Walker From ancient times, people have used ivory as a gem, as a material to use for decoration, for worship, etc. Most ivory used has come from the elephant, although some has come from hippo, walrus, etc. This mostly involved the death of the elephant (although in early years much came from elephants that has already died and whose remains lay scattered on the ground. The trade was also long associated with the slave trade, for locals were captured by Arab traders to carry the ivory to the coast where it and they were then sold. This was a horrendous trade that led to the deaths of countless people and elephants. This book tells the story of the use and trade of ivory. It is not a sentimental work but rather is highly practical in its approach (e.g. in dealing with the question of a total ban on ivory trading which has led to unfortunate consequences for the local populations both of people and elephants). Mad Science by Mark McClusky The subject of this article is a man who is using scientific discoveries and apparatus to cook food. This includes vacuum pumps, centrifuges, etc. He has produced a massive cook book of the very best techniques to acquire the absolute best flavor and texture for meals. The problem is that the techniques are often long and difficult, and other than a few enthusiasts, the cook book will probably only be used by a few. Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World by Ken Alibek Ken Alibek, the author of this account, was a chief scientist in the bioweapons effort of the old Soviet Union. He describes his and others attempts to weaponize the worst of all bacteria and viruses to be found, including smallpox, tularemia, Ebola, etc. While the Soviet Union constantly denied its existence, this program was extensive and often successful in their efforts. The effort continued into the present days (with Russia taking over the impetus) and it has spread to many other countries (e.g. North Korea, Iraq before the invasion, Iran, etc.) It is frightening in its consequences. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Chicago - Rome - Assisi

May 10, 2017 Peace and Good, I returned to Rome from Chicago on Monday, a week ago. The weather is changing and is quite nice right now. Thursday of this past week I went up to Assisi for a meeting of Franciscans International. I am on the Board of Directors of this organization. It is a lobbying group for all of the Franciscan families at the United Nations. They have offices in Geneva and New York. They do a lot of work fighting for human rights and for peace and against poverty. Every time I go to Assisi, it is like going home again. It is a beautiful town, and I would recommend that if anyone is coming to Italy, that person include it on his/her list of must sees. I often tell people that one could be lost in the allies of Assisi for five hours and never be afraid. I returned from Assisi yesterday and will be here in Rome until the beginning of June. Next week we have our definitory, and then I have a week with nothing scheduled. I will be able to catch up on some of my paperwork, with reports, daily reflections, and magazine articles. I finished some books: Without Mercy by Jack Higgins This is an account of the British secret department that battles the enemies of democracy with British, ex-IRA and American forces. In this volume of the series, the team battles an attempt by Putin in Russia to gain control of an oil empire by having an impersonator take the place of an assassinated oligarch. A sub-plot is the attempt of the Russian team to kill the members of this team who has foiled their plots in the past. Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander This is the account of a near death experience by a neuro-surgeon who had a massive bacterial infection that stopped his brain activity for a week. He had always been a skeptic before when his own patients had recounted these types of events, but following his, he investigated reports of other near death experiences and found a remarkable similarity to what he experienced. He feels that this had to be real for there was absolutely no brain activity during his illness. The fact that he awoke from it after a week and that his memory and facilities returned slowly is a miracle in itself for people who are in a coma for that amount of time always suffer massive brain damage, which he did not. It is a good account which makes one think. Test-Tube Burgers by Michael Specter What if we could produce meat which did not come directly from animals. This article examines the attempt to find a technique to produce meat protein at a level that could eliminate much of the raising of animals (and their often cruel slaughter) by growing meat in the test tube. Right now this technique, while possible, is outrageously expensive. But with further research, it might be possible to do. One has to ask whether this technique, though, will ever reach the point in the near future that it will be used extensively. The Assassins by Alan Bardos This is the story of a young Englishman who is brash and is having an affair with his boss. The boss finds out and exiles him to a back waters – the Austro-Hungarian Empire just before the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. He ends up spying upon the assassins and almost saves the Archduke. This is very much written in the style of a number of spy and adventure novels written around 1900. The coincidences and the incredible talent (linguistic) of the Englishman are not believable. It is not a bad read, but not all that serious either. The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece, from Utopia to Crisis and Collapse by Paul Cartledge This is the history of the marshal race in southern Greece which managed to stop or slow down the Persians at the pass in Thermopylae and who eventually defeated Athens in the Peloponnesian War. They lived a life of preparation for war, treating their neighbors as slaves who had no rights, even that of life (for one of the things a young Spartan would do was to blood himself by going out and killing one of the so-called Helots at his whim. Cartledge gives the positive aspects of their culture (e.g. being ruled by two kings who balanced each other) and their negative. The City Solution by Robert Kunzig We usually think of urban planning as getting as much green and recreation space within the city. We view life in the countryside as more positive than that in the city (less crime, cleaner air, more space, etc. The author of this study challenges these assumptions. He speaks of the advantages of living in close proximity to the communication of ideas, commerce, using less energy for less travel is required to arrive here or there, the greater use of mass transit. It gives an interesting perspective. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ellicott City - Chicago

April 27, 2017 This past week I finished off all of my doctors and dentist visits. All went well, so I am ready for another 50,000 miles. I always tell people that these are my 50,000 mile check ups, and unfortunately that is not all that far off the mark. On Sunday I travelled to Chicago to give a week workshop on the Letters of St. Paul to our postulants. This is the site for all of the men who are first entering our community. At the end of the program, if all goes well, they will enter novitiate which is also a year long program (held in Arroyo Grande, CA). At the end of that, they take their vows for a period of three years, etc. There are now 13 postulants, and they are a good group of men. We are covering one letter a day, and they have a million questions which I always like. I find I learn so much when I try to answer the questions, or at least have to research a bit to find an answer. I have also visited one of our Croatian friars who has been working in the diocese of Gary, IN. His name is Stefan, and I taught him many years ago in Rensselaer, NY. It was good to see him again. This stay is giving me the opportunity to catch up with a number of friars in the area. I finished some reading: Crowley, Roger Empires of the Sea by Roger Crowley This is a history of the interaction between the Christian world and the Ottoman Empire and its vassals in the Mediterranean during the 16th century. This includes the siege of Malta (which ended in a withdrawal by the Muslims) and the sea battle of Lepanto (which ended in a spectacular victory by the Christian forces which blunted the sea power of the Muslims and gave the rest of Europe breathing room to prepare their defense against the Muslim conquerors. The book is well written and actually exciting to read. The Writings of Francis of Assisi: Rules, Testament and Admonitions by Michael Blastic, Jay Hammond and Wayne Hellman This is a critical study of some of the writings of St. Francis. Our preparation for the writings of Francis was very poor when I was going through formation, and most of what I now know I have picked up along the way. This book uses many of the same techniques that I use in Bible study to examine the writings of Francis and what they meant to him and the friars reading them at his time. Mother Teresa: An Authorized Biography by Kathryn Spink I read this book in conjunction with the canonization of Mother Theresa. It is a well written account of the saint. The author tends to defend her positions, but is honest enough to admit that toward the end Mother suffered from the ravages of old age and some of her decisions might have been impetuous and poorly thought out. Nevertheless, it is fascinating to read about the heroic choice that Mother made initially in adopting this form of life, and how she lived it to the best of her ability right to the end. Ill Wind by David Kirby When we think about air pollution, we are usually thinking of factories and cars in the United States that occasionally produce the smog that troubles many of our cities. This author speaks of studies done to determine how much pollutions (especially toxic chemicals such as lead) come from the smoke stacks of China which is industrializing all the more. The scientists have found ways to measure it and to track the patterns that it travels around the world. The Chinese government is not always helpful in this analysis, but by taking wind samples from high altitudes (either mountains or planes) one can get a good read of what is really happening, and it is not comforting. The Second World War by Antony Beevoir Antony Beevor is a good English military historian. I have read a number of his books. This is a long overview of World War II. Most of it is from a European perspective, especially English at times. Nevertheless, it is a very good book, well worth the time and effort which such a long book requires. Hitlerland by Andrew Nagorski This is not the first book that I have read that was written by Nagorski. I previously read a book written by him on Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II. This book is a collection of the remembrances of American citizens who lived in Germany during the years in which Hitler came to power up to the expulsion of Americans when Germany declared war on the United States in 1941. It is a fascinating account of how diplomats and journalists tried to come to grips with what was happening. They almost all considered some of the things that Hitler did to be helpful (full employment, a stable economy), but as they came to discover the dark side of what he was doing, they came to hate and even loath him. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude