Wednesday, October 18, 2017

La Verna, Italy - Rome - Assisi - Rome

October 19, 2017 Peace and Good, We returned from our retreat in La Verna. It was good to be back in Rome, for La Verna was freezing, both day and night. Here in Rome it is Autumn, and has actually been quite warm in these days. Last week we had a full week of definitory. As usual, we spoke about the presence of friars all throughout the world. Mixed in with our regular meetings, there are always smaller group meetings on various topics. All of that went very well. The meeting finished on Friday, so Saturday I took the train up to Assisi. It is only about two and a half hours to get there. I went up to visit two of the friars from my province, and three other friars who are in their novitiate this year. Novitiate is a year of prayer and discernment when one first enters the Order. Normally, these friars who are from England would have done their novitiate at the common novitiate in California, but this year they were sent to Assisi instead. They are thrilled to be there - to be in the place where our founder, St. Francis, lived and died. I came back to Rome on Monday. Today we head over to the Seraphicum, our International College, for a couple of days of workshop on the spirituality of St. Maximilian Kolbe. Then on Saturday I head out to the States. I have finished the following: Major John Andre: The Life and Death of the Famous Spymaster during the Revolutionary War by Charles River Editor Major John Andre was the British officer who was to negotiate with Benedict Arnold for the betrayal of West Point to the British during the Revolutionay War. He was arrested on his way back from his mission, carrying plans for the fort hidden on his person. He had wanted to return to British lines on the ship that had brought him up the Hudson, but that ship had been forced to move and he had to seek British lines dressed in civilian clothes (which branded him a spy). In spite of the fact that everyone considered him to be a gentleman of high quality, he was executed by being hung (in a conscious parallel to the execution of Nathan Hale). Killers of the King: the Men who dared to Execute Charles I by Charles Spencer This is an outline of the fate of those who executed King Charles I of England (a Stuart). A number of those most responsible were arrested, tried for treason and regicide, and hung, drawn and quartered ( a medieval horrendous form of execution). Some fled to Holland or Switzerland or America. Of these, some were found and killed or brought back for punishment. What complicated all of this is that the king had originally called upon the executioners of his father to give themselves, implying some form of amnesty. When it comes down to it, the king’s decision to find and try the killers of his father was no more brutal than the techniques used by those men (who often mouthed pious platitudes for their deeds). The Man who tried to redeem the World With Logic by Amanda Gefter This is the story of two men who tried to create an analytic map of the brain. They never succeeded because the brain functions in a much more complicated way than they expected. Nevertheless, their theoretical work was valuable for it helped create the logic network that shaped the creation of the modern computer. Moving On by Diane Cook This is an unusual story about a place where houses are set up for widows and widowers to mourn and be prepared for a future marriage. It is almost a dystopic world in which it seems to be illegal to be single. The houses are described as minimum security prisons. Yet, the woman who is the subject of the story mannages to survive and move on so that she is ready for a new marriage. American Legends: the Life of the Kingfish, Huey Long by Charles River Editors This is the history of one of the most controversial figures of the twentieth century. He was a populist politician from Lousiana who was both governor and senator (for a while both at the same time). He promised to make every man a king, equaling out the wealth of the people through social outreaches. Some thought him to be a dictator, others a savior. He did manage to quelch much of the corruption of the state, although others claimed (possibly falsely) that he simply funneled it into the pockets of his own supporters. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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