Monday, October 9, 2017

Newark, NJ - Rome - La Verna - Italy

October 9, 2017 Peace and Good, I attended the funeral in Brooklyn of our friar Justin Biase. He died after a triple by-pass operation, and many friars attended his funeral (over 80). It was sad because Justin was beloved and also because we all felt that he died too soon. I came back to Rome and tried to work off my jet lag. This time it was very bad because I had crossed the Atlantic back and forth twice within three weeks. This past week the General Definitory went up to La Verna for a retreat with the definitories of the Friars Minor, the Capuchins and the TOR (all the groups of Franciscans). The preacher was Jean-Paul Vesco, a Dominican who is the bishop of Oran in Algeria. He spoke of a Christian approach to evangelization in countries where Christians are a small and sometimes persecuted minority. He based his apostolic approach on friendship with others. It was very good. Yesterday we came back to Rome for our General Definitory which we began after lunch today. We will continue until Friday evening. The morning was spent in writing reports. The weather has broken here in Rome and it is beginning to become cool. In La Verna (which is the mountain upon which St. Francis received the stigmata, the wounds of Christ) was very cold (as it almost always is). I finished some reading: The Punic Wars: the History of the Conflict that Destroyed Carthage and Made Rome a Global Power by Charles River Editors This is the history of the wars between Carthage and Rome (three of them before the destruction of the city). It speaks quite a bit about Hannibal, a great general for the Carthiginians. The Romans come across poorly in this account, which they should. They eventually won the war simply because they stubbornly refused to understand that they had lost, and they continued to raise new armies and fleets even when one after another was destroyed and sometime annihilated. Frankenstein: Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz This is a modern remake of the Frankenstein. The doctor still lives and is producing a race of new beings who he intends as an army to take over the world. He is being thwarted by the New Orleans police department, by Deucaleon, the first of his creatures which has rebelled against him, and by some of the other creatures he has created which are no longer doing his bidding. This is one of a series of books with similar themes from Koontz. The History of Cuba in 50 Events (History by Country Time) This is a short history of the island/country with 50 episodes that give an outline of what happened there throughout the ages. It is a short presentation, but it gives a good amount of information in a very compact format. The Last Train to Zona Verde by Paul Theroux Paul Theroux is famous as a travel author. This was not his first trip to Africa. He lived there teaching for several years. In this book, he is already 70 years old, and he sees it as his last trip to Africa. He intends to travel from South Africa to the north, possibly as far as Timbuktu. This is not his final destination, however, for reasons of wars and terrorism farther north. He goes as far as Angola, which for him is a bitter disappointment, given the ravages of war that one still sees everywhere and the blatant corruption that lives so many on the edge of life and others fabulously rich. His book ends with a chapter full of anger and disillusionment. The 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami by Charles River Editors This is one of the Charles River books, all under 100 pages. This one deals with the famous Boxing Day tsunami that killed so many people from Indonesia to the coast of Africa. Unlike most of the other Charles River books, this one is mostly personal remembrances of the terrible events, which in this case works very well. One Summer, America, 1927 by Bill Bryson This book is the story of the history of one year (especially from an American perspective). This was the year that Lindberg flew from New York to Paris non-stop and became a great hero in the States and also in Europe. It is the year when the Sacco and Vanzetti trial for terrorism went on. It is when Babe Ruth was at the peak of his fame and energy, as well as Lou Gerick. This was also the year that a group of international bankers made some decisions that led to the great depression. The story is well told, as are all of Bryson’s books. It is well worth reading. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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