Wednesday, February 15, 2017


February 15, 2017 Peace and Good, I have been in Rome since the beginning of last week. The weather has been very nice in these days, much warmer than I remember in past winters. We are meeting in definitory - a longer one than normal because we have a number of reports from various Italian provinces which are preparing for their provincial chapters this spring. They have been hit by the vocation crunch, and things are not going all that well in some of them. I have now finished with my visitation in Great Britain and Ireland. I met the last friar this past Sunday at the Vatican where he is a confessor. I will be flying out to California this coming Sunday to begin a visitation there. I will be in the States for well over a month this time, mostly on the west coast. Another of the Assistant Generals will be visiting my home province on the east coast to do the visitation. The rule is that an assistant cannot do the visitation to his own province. I have finished some reading: City of Saints: Pilgrimage to John Paul II’s Krakow by George Weigel I was going to World Youth Day in Cracow, so when I saw this title, I decided to read it while I was travelling. It was a good choice. It gave a good introduction to the sites and the culture of the people living there. It described Pope John Paul II’s fight against communism and other forms of belief that sap the vitality of the souls of people. It helps me understand better what I was seeing and experiencing while there. The Soul of the South by Paul Theroux Paul Theroux is a professional travel writer. This essay concerns some trips he made in the southern US. He visits various towns in the deep South that have been all but abandoned by industry and business and their inhabitants. There is a deep sense of sadness as he travels through areas where all that is left is the foundation of their once beautiful buildings. Lincoln’s Battle with God by Stephen Mansfield This is a well thought out, well documented book on Lincoln’s faith life. The danger in this topic is that it is so easy to quote one-liners from Lincoln’s life which could prove almost anything. The author shows that Lincoln was heavily affected by the fundamentalist Presbyterian upbringing that he received, especially for the negative. He seems to have resented the religious hypocrisy of his cruel father. He rejected all organized religion when he was a young scholar and lawyer, but through the various crisis of his life and by the example of reasonable religious figures, he seems to have come back to a belief in God and his goodness. This is especially evident by some events during the Civil War and his second inaugural address. Ship of Wonks by Iris Smyles This is a travel short story. A young woman who is a bit of a science geek takes a trip that is a physics workshop. She expects to meet the love of her life, but instead encounters people much like herself. In the course of the story, she comes to be comfortable with herself and her probable future. Baked Alaska by Christopher Solomon This is the travel story of an adventure to a national park in Alaska which is almost never visited. The author and his friends visit the Amniakchuck Volcano crater. In previous eras it had been described as a paradise on earth, but since its most recent explosion it had become more of a site for Dante’s description of Hell. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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