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


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