Sunday, January 15, 2017

Rome - Cochin, India - Rome

January 15, 2017 Peace and Good, This past week I was in India for an extraordinary chapter of that province. I was with two other friars from Rom: fr. Benedict Baek, the Assistant General for Asia and fr. Wojciech Kulig, the exactor general (financial office for the Order). We were dealing mostly with economic issues and how to help the province become more autonomous financially. They are only ten years old as a province so they are still going through a lot of growing pains, but things are on the right path. This was my first time in India. The weather was not all that bad, mostly in the 70's. The facilities were quite nice. The food was great. It is quite spicy, but I don't mind that at all. The friars were very good and the meeting went quite well. I assisted by giving a spiritual talk at the beginning and preaching each day at Mass. The trip was quite long, about three hours from India to the Gulf States and another six hours from there to Rome. I arrived home on Friday just in time for a meeting of the definitory. It was only two hours, but we had to get together to take care of some business. Yesterday and most of today were spent trying to get over jet lag which has hit me quite a bit this time (especially given that I had a change of ten and a half hours going from the US to India and then four and a half hours change coming back to Rome. I think my body is not quite sure if I am coming or going. Today we head over to the Seraphicum, our International Faculty, to begin a week long meeting for the new provincials, custodes and secretaries of the jurisdictions of the Order. There is only one person present from my federation, so it should not be too heavy of a week for me. It ends on Friday and on Saturday I head back to Great Britain to finish off my visitation there. I have to see Manchester, Liverpool, Aberdeen and then back to London. I have finished some reading: Alif the Unseen by C. Willow Wilson Alif is a teenage computer hacker in one of the Gulf States in Arabia. He is half Arab, half Indian. She hosts radical sites and protects them from the attacks of a shadowy figure named “the hand.” He comes across an old book of tales that was supposedly written by a jinn (what we call a genie). He uses it to produce a computer code that is based not an analog system of two choices, but rather has many nuances and twists and turns. He uses this in his battle with the hand, but ends up tortured in prison before the end of the story. This book reads a little like a story from Aladdin, but much modernized and set in the political world of the modern mid-east. It is a bit slow at the beginning, but it draws you in little by little. The Wipeout Gene by Bijal Trivedi How can one fight the mosquito that spreads a terrible disease like Dengue Fever which is found in many tropical countries throughout the world. It’s nickname is bone-breaking fever for how one who is infected feels. A second episode can lead to a much more serious version which can lead to death. This story tells of an experiment to genetically alter mosquitoes so that treated males mate with untreated females, and the females that she produces are incapable of developing wing strength to fly. They sit on the water and die, and eventually this leads to a plummeting of the population of that particular variety of mosquito in that region. It also speaks of ethical and political questions of releasing a genetically altered insect into the environment. 24 Hours by Greg Iles A team of kidnappers takes the child of a doctor once a year in an almost fool proof plan. They take the daughter of a famous doctor and both the wife and husband fight back. They are dealing with a man who not only plans to kidnap the daughter but also kill her, for the gang leader blames the doctor for the death of his mother during an operation (when it was not). The story is quite good, filled with action. Target Tokyo: The Story of the Sorge Spy Ring by Gordon Prange This was a topic that I always wanted to read about. A soviet spy set up a spy ring in Tokyo just before the outbreak of World War II. He was able to obtain invaluable information for the soviets in his unofficial job in the German Embassy. He warned Stalin about the coming German invasion, and also informed him that Japan did not plan to attack the Soviets, thereby freeing up the Siberian troops that turned the Germans back at the gates to Moscow in the first year of their invasion. He was eventually caught and executed with his greatest collaborator, a Japanese man who had good access to the leaders of Japan. Innocent III: Leader of Europe, 1198-1216 by Jane Sayers Innocent III was the pope who approved St. Francis’ way of life as a Friar Minor, so I wanted to read this biography. Much of it deals with his dealing with the Holy Roman Empire and its claimants to its throne. He is also knows for his work in codifying canon law. He proposed crusades against the Muslims in Jerusalem (leading to the 4th crusade in which the crusaders attacked Constantinople and not the Muslims), against the Moors in Spain, against the pagans in the Baltic area, and against the heretical Albigensians in southern France. He was a basically good man, but very active on the world scene. He continued to foster reform in the Church, especially concerning the conduct of priests and the sacrament of reconciliation. This was a good book. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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