Thursday, March 2, 2017

Castro Valley, CA - San Pablo, CA - Coalinga, CA - Arroyo Grande, CA

March 2, 2017 Peace and Good, I hope that you Lent has begun well. I am at our novitiate now in Arroyo Grande. It is a combination of continuing my visitation of the California province and offering my annual workshop to the novices. Right now there are six novices: three from Our Lady of Consolation Province, two from St. Joseph of Cupertino Province, and one from my home province, Our Lady of Angels. fr. Giles is the novice director, and fr. Maurice, one of my former students, is the assistant. Arroyo Grande is a small town a bit inland from Pismo Beach, half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco. I will be here til early Sunday morning when I fly out to Baltimore to preach another retreat and give a presentation at the definitory of Our Lady of Angels Province. This past weekend I visited and helped out at a parish in Coalinga. There are two friars there: one works in the parish and the other works in one of the State Prisons not far away. They are both doing great work. On Friday I had visited one of our parish in San Pablo, not far from Oakland. This is an incredibly diverse community with Masses in English, Spanish, Tagalog (from the Philippines), Vietnamese and Kmu (from Cambodia). The workshop this week is on the Gospels and the Psalms. It is just five mornings, so it is a cursory overview with some applications to our religious life. I am trying to get over a heavy cold that I caught in Rome. During our definitory, we all caught the cold that the Minister General had when the meeting began. I finished some reading: The Barbarian Empires of the Steppe by Kenneth Harl This is a 36 lecture in the Great Courses. The professor gives a great overview of the various barbarian invaders from Central Asia (the Huns, the Magyars, the Mongolian invasion, etc.). These invasions were famous for being ferocious, but they also allowed for a cross cultural communication between East Asia and the Arab world and even Europe. This course is very informative. Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon This is one of the series on Commissario Guidi Brunetti, a police detective in Venice. A world famous conductor is killed by cyanide during a performance of an opera. He is an elderly German who has a mysterious past which might have involved Nazi connections. He presents himself as a paragon of virtue, but that is not really the case (as one sees as the investigation continues). Donna Leon has a masterful talent in tracing the Comissario as a real person with a real family. Her presentation of the city of Venice and its inhabitants is equally masterful. It was a real joy reading this book. Contact and Cover by Greg Rucka This is a short story concerning three policewomen who have had the same male partner fail them when he was supposed to provide them cover. It is obvious it is because he does not feel that they belong on the force. When they complain, their complain is revealed to them and he threatens them. They manage to get their revenge and teach him a violent lesson, filming what they do so that they might have cover if he every tries to bring them to charges. Unlikely Allies by Richard Paul This is the account of the first American representative of the revolutionary government of the 13 colonies who had just started their rebellion against Great Britain, Silas Deane. He preceded Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. There is also a French officer who many suspect of really being a woman, who confesses to being a woman and lives as one for many years, but who at death is discovered to really be a man. Finally, there is the author of the play The Barber of Seville and Figaro, which are then made into operas by Mozart. This is a true story, but it is incredibly convoluted. It shows that the portrait we have of our founding fathers as disinterested heroes of independence is a bit distorted. They were all too human, too fallible. This is a very good read. The Feedback Loop by Thomas Goetz This article is based on the idea that when there are signs which indicate the speed with which cars are travelling, and even if there is no threat of a fine or anything like that, the vast majority of cars will tend to slow down. This indicates that people will tend to do the right thing if there is enough information provided in the right way. This principle could easily be used in addressing various social problems (overeating, drinking, gambling, etc.) that don’t seem to respond to a more strident message. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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