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