Friday, November 10, 2017

Ellicott City - Chicago

November 10, 2017 Peace and Good, At the end of October I finished my meetings at Ellicott City with the definitory of Our Lady of Consolation Province. I flew out to Chicago for a couple of activities. On the 4th, I was part of a workshop which commemorated the 500th anniversary of the document that split the brown Franciscans from the Conventual Franciscans. There were two academic presentations on this history of the split, and then the common elements that the two groups share. My presentation was on ways that we are now collaborating all throughout the world. I was pleased with the result. We had small group discussions afterward, and the friars came up with many possible forms of collaboration for the future. The idea that everyone seemed to agree with was the suggestion that we get together often to share a pizza. I told them that we get much more done over a picnic table than over a conference table. Since Monday, I have been presenting the Letters of St. Paul to our postulants. Postulants are the men who have just entered our community and they are discerning whether they would like to go to novitiate. This workshop is something that I do every year. We have seven new postulants and one who is doing a second year. Three of the eight were born in foreign countries, which is a trend that seems to be happening year after year. That is not really too much of a surprise, for in the past many vocations came from ethnic communities. I will head out tomorrow to Ellicott City for a few meetings, and then on Thursday I go to New York for a meeting of the Board of Directors of Franciscans International. I have finished some reading: Windsor Castle by Charles River Editors This is the story of Windsor Castle, the castle used as a residence for British Kings all the way back to the days of William the Conqueror. The author speaks of how the castle was esteemed by some kings and fell out of favor by others. There is too much detail for the casual reader and it becomes a bit borning because it has the feel of being weighed down by history. Megido by Charles River Editors This is one of the short treatments of various topics by Charles River Editors. This one deals with the city of Medigo, which lies at a crucial point in the Jezreel Valley in Israel. This city/fortress blocked any invading army travelling to the north or south. It was often destroyed and rebuilt, eventually ending up as a mound (hence the name of the last battle in the Book of Revelation: Armagedon – which comes from the words har = mount and Medigo). This treatment is much more technical that would be of use to the casual reader, devolving into great details concerning the various layers of habitation. Bride by Julia Elliott This is a short story about a medieval nun copyist who lives in a community that is ravaged by plague and famine. It is a very strange story, but yet compelled me to think about the situation more. I would clasify it as good in that it made me think. A Hero of France by Alan Furst Over the years I have read a number of Furst’s books, and I have to say that they never disappoint. He writes about the era just before the beginning of World War II and its early days. This volume is about a ring of French patriots who work to rescue British flyers who have been shot down. The volume is filled with suspense, but never in a cheap or manipulative way. There is a calm style throughout Furst’s writing that lulls one into the story and the world which he is constructing. Obviously, I would strongly recommend this book and anything else Furst has written. The Old Way by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas This is a book of remembrances that Elizabeth Thomas has written concerning her stay with the Bushmen in Namibia in the 1950’s. She was there with her family, and she and her brother (who worked in film) were present in the last days of that particular culture. In the generation immediately following, much of what made the Bushmen distinct was lost to the predominant culture of the land and the civil war that preceded independence. She saw various techniques and ways of living that probably date back to the Neolithic era. The Bushmen were hunter-gatherers who had an uncanny knowledge of their environment, one which was the accumulation of folk wisdom that dates back millenia. She gets a bit preachy when she contrasts the evils of modern society to the simplicity of the Bushmen culture, but the book is well worth reading. Have a good week Shalom fr. Jude


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