Monday, November 5, 2018

Ndola, Zambia - Rome - Assisi - Rome - Chicago

November 5, 2018 Peace and Good, The zero to five workshop for friars who had recently finished their formation programs in Zambia went quite well. I always find that these workshops are a challenge because I must bridge the cultural divisions, but it was well worth it. The men are very idealistic, which is good in the young. My job was to encourage their enthusiasm but also to help them to balance it with prudence. This is always a challenge for the young friars. My trip back from Zambia was good. I stopped off in Addis Ababa on the way back (which was just a stop over of a few hours). The airport is much improved over what I remember from previous trips. Let's hope that they keep working at it. This past week I was in Rome for our definitory. This meeting was a bit shorter than normal for we did not meet on Monday afternoon, Thursday (because of the Feast of All Saint's Day) and Saturday. Yet, the meeting itself was quite full. We got good news. The constitutions that we produced at our Extraordinary Chapter were approved by the Vatican. They will be promulgated at the end of the month. Now we have to keep working to get ready for our next General Chapter, the Ordinary one, starting this May. Yesterday I flew from Rome to Chicago for a meeting of our federation. That will last until Thursday, and I head out to Baltimore on Friday. I finished some reading: 1939: Countdown to War by Richard Overy This book deals with the months before the German attack on Poland during World War II. It speaks of the negotiations, the various motives of the parties involved, and the sad ending to the story which plunged the Polish people into a hellish existence for the next several years. The account is well written. The Psalms by Artur Weiser This is a masterful and long treatment of each of the psalms, giving the main message, some cultural background, the spiritual significance of the message, etc. It is not a book that should be used by someone who wants a short and understandable outline of the psalms. It is much more involved, but a valuable research resource. Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission by Bret Baier This speaks of the career of President Eisenhower, but especially of his last days in the presidency and his concerns about the accession of the relatively inexperienced President Kennedy. The author goes into length speaking about the last address to the nation that Eisenhower made, especially how he warned of the dangers of the nation being directed by the Military-Industrial Complex. The author shows how this most military man actually fought to keep the nation out of conflict. It is a good treatment. Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly This is one of the killing series that Bill O’Reilly and his collaborators produced. There are parts of this book which are worthwhile, but the scholarship is not great all the way through. There are some facts he mentions which a just wrong, and others are oddly stated (e.g. presenting the Roman Senate in the last days of the Republic as a democracy when it clearly was an aristocracy that was no longer functioning for the good of the republic). The book is good as a meditation, as long as one realizes that the author has a bit of an ax to grind at times, and is a bit loose with the history at other times (inventing dialogues and intentions that are not documented in the available sources). The First Man in Rome by Coleen McCullough This is the story of the careers of Marius and Sulla, two important generals of Rome in the generation before the accession of Julius Caesar. It is surprisingly good. This is a historic fiction, but the characters are presented as three dimensional and one can develop a sense of their motivations (which were not always all that honorable). Madam President by William Hazelgrove This is an excellent treatment of how Edith Wilson hid the illness (severe stroke) of President Wilson along with the aid of his doctor. Even cabinet officials were often not allowed to see the president. Edith Wilson, in effect, was the acting president of the US. She was more concerned with the health of her husband than of the good of the nation (which is exactly what she said at times). I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Chicago - Rome - Ndola, Zambia

October 25, 2018 Peace and Good, I finished my workshop on the Letter of St. Paul with the postulants in Chicago and flew back to Rome last Friday. I arrived in Rome on Saturday morning, and just had enough time to rest up a bit, repack, and head out to Zambia to give a workshop. I am in Ndola to give a workshop to those who are out of formation from 9 to 5 years. This is a critical point in the formation of the friars for they are just getting out of formation houses and entering into friaries where the life is quite different. The young men are very idealistic, but there is always the danger that this will create two groups in the province: the young vs. the old. My job this week is to encourage them to continue to be idealistic and to challenge the status quo, but to try to do that without creating divisions. I am also here to help the friars take stock of where they are. This is the point of the friars' life when they develop good or bad habits that will follow them all throughout their lives. I am very impressed with the 12 young men on this workshop. I give some presentations from scripture, but I also open it up a lot to let them talk about their experiences. Theoretically we do this in our monthly house chapters, but it does not happen all that often. Thus, I hope that we are modelling what can be in the future. I have finished some reading: Washington Burning by Les Standford This is the account of the building and then the burning of Washington DC during the War of 1812. It dwells upon the career of the chief architect, Pierre L’Enfant. While he was probably a genius, he was also a very difficult man with whom one had to work. The choice of Washington as the site of the federal government was controversial, even after its official buildings were burned down. The book gives a good history of the events. The Polish Officer by Alan Furst This is one of the books on spy craft in the period just before the beginning of World War II and during the early days of the war. This one deals with a Polish officer who is called upon to spy first in Poland, then in France, and finally back in Poland. The books are realistic, with and incredibly good psychological insight into the people involved. They are not James Bond stories, but rather real people who are involved in incredibly difficult circumstances. I would highly recommend any of Furst’s books (this being the fifth or sixth that I have read). The Bozeman Trail: the History and Legacy of the Exploration Route that Let to Red Cloud’s War by Charles River Editors This is the history of one of the major trails used by early settlers in the West, this one running through the Powder River territory. It caused a major Indian War to arise with the Sioux, during which the Crow tried to remain neutral. Eventually, with the transcontinental railroad, the trail was abandoned. Then Sings My Soul by Robert Morgan This is the history of 150 of the religious songs used throughout the English speaking world, especially England and the US. Most of the songs are Protestant, but many would be recognized by a Catholic community as well. There is a short biography of each of the song’s authors, and a bit of why the song meant so much to that individual. Map Thief by Michael Blanding This is the story of a map vendor who eventually became a map thief, E. Forbes Smiley. As part of the background material, there is a good description of the practice of map collecting. There are those who buy old maps for wall decorations, and there are the more academically intentioned collectors who build their map collection upon a theme (e.g. early colonial maps of a particular area, world maps during a certain era, etc.). The vendor tried to live a life style beyond his means, and to finance it began to steal maps from libraries and rare map collections, thereby betraying the very people who had supported him in his research. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, October 15, 2018

London - San Antonio, Texas - Chicago

October 15, 2018 Peace and Good, I finished off my trip to London and flew out to San Antonio to visit the house of formation there. I was only there for abour 48 hours, but it was a very good visit. I had some nice discussions with a couple of friars there. Then I flew into Chicago on Friday. I will be giving a week workshop to the postulants (8 of them) on the Letters of St. Paul. I enjoy doing this every year. It gives me the opportunity to get to know the men in formation a bit. Saturday, I was able to be at a 25th anniversary of the ordination of fr. Brad Milunski. He was one of my students at Granby many years ago. He is now the director of the formation program here. I have finally finished with my bronchitis. I am usually very healthy, but when I get a bad cold it almost always becomes bronchitis. I will have to mention that to the doctor on my next visit there in November. I have finished some reading: The Constitutional Convention of 1787 by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the convention that led to the production of the constitution. It started as an attempt to revise the Articles of Confederation that had been the unifying principle for the US right after the War of Independence. Madison and Hamilton worked to make the revision more substantial, giving rise to what we today know as our constitution. The short book records the series of compromises between big states and small, slave and free states, those who wanted a central authority and those who wanted more states’ rights, etc. Hadrian’s Wall: the History and Construction of Ancient Rome’s Most Famous Defensive Fortification by Charles River Editors This is a Charles River account of the construction and history of Hadrian’s Wall in northern England/Scotland. Hadrian had decided that the Roman Empire was large enough, and instead of setting out on new conquests, he decided to build barriers in those places where barbarians might threaten settlements. The wall seems also to have been built to regulate trade (and taxes) between the Picts of Scotland and settlements farther south. A Canticle for Lebowitz by Walter Miller This is a book that I had read in high school many years ago, and I enjoyed it as much this time around. It is about a post-nuclear war period in which a monastery of monks dedicated to Lebowitz, an engineer become monk who protected books during an anti-intellectual rebellion and who died a martyr to the cause tries to revive civilization. It tells the story at a number of historic periods after the initial event. The author has a sense of humor, and asks important philosophic questions about progress and responsibility, etc. Nineteen Weeks: America, Britain and the Fateful Summer of 1940 by Norman Moss This book covers the period at the beginning of the Second World War, especially dealing with what was happening in Great Britain and the reaction to events in the US. It is well written, if at times a bit hard on the US for not getting involved early enough. I could easily recommend it to others. Jason and the Argonauts: the Origins and History of the Ancient Greek’s Most Famous Mythological Hero by Andrew Scott and Charles River Editors This book is an overview of the story of Jason and tells of its importance in Greek culture and also of its historic resonances. Like all of the Charles River books, it is short and really only gives an overview, but it does that very well. The Life and Legacy of the Prophet Jeremiah by Charles River Editors This is a short overview of the life and ministry of the prophet Jeremiah. I found the scholarship below the level of many of the other books in this series. The actual ministry of Jeremiah is handled well, but the author accepts as unconditional truth what is really just a theory, at times a theory that does not have widespread belief. I was disappointed. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, October 8, 2018

Rome - London - Oxford - London

October 8, 2018 Peace and Good, I have finished my time in Rome for a while. In the last couple of days, I have been working on a little project and finally made some progress on it. I want to transcribe all of the homilies that I preached during the Extraordinary Chapter (at the request of some friars and the Minister General). While I was recovering from bronchitis, I just did not have the energy. Now that I am feeling better, I finished about a third of the project. I hope to have it completed by the end of the month. I flew to London on the 5th and had some meetings with the custos and his vicar. We were able to get a lot of business done in a relatively short amount of time. Saturday I headed up to Oxford to visit our formation community, and came back Sunday evening. Now I will be in London until Wednesday when I will fly out to San Antonio, Texas to another of our houses of formation. The weather here is cool and overcast, a normal British fall. I have spent many, many hours in conversation with a number of friars here, which is always good. I have finished some reading: The Storm of the Century by Al Roker This is an account of the hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas in 1900. I had already read another book on this topic called Isaac’s Storm, and this book was as good if not better than that one. This is the Al Roker who is the meteorologist on TV. He has a lot of good quotes from people who lived through the storm. The final toll of this disaster was somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 when the storm surge from a very powerful hurricane that the weather bureau had not forecast completely covered the island on which Galveston was built. The FBI by RJ Parker Vol 1 This is a series of stories about some of the FBI’s most infamous cases. One or two of the cases is treated in a very defensive manner, but the rest are simply reporting what happened with cases like the mobster cases in the 1930’s and some of the more recent cases in the recent decades. William Penn: The Life and Legacy of the English Quaker who Founded Pennsylvania by Charles River Editors This short book on the life of William Penn is quite well done with a number of long quotes from Penn’s own writings. He was a convert to being a Quaker, a choice that landed him in prison a number of times. He was at times favored by the court (especially as being the son of a war hero), and at other times ignored or even persecuted. He was the founder of the colony of Pennsylvania which was one of the most respectful colonies toward other religions and toward Native Americans. Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson This was a very, very good book on the life and career of this incredible man. I found the treatment as good as that of Ross King who has written a series of very good books on the painting of the Last Supper by Leonardo, on the dome of the cathedral in Florence by Brunelleschi, on the painting of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo, etc. The author does not delve into some of the more strange theories on Leonardo’s art. He describes his creative process which was the product of an insatiable curiosity. I highly recommend this book. The Cathars: The History and Legacy of the Gnostic Christian Sect During the Middle Ages by Charles River Editors The Cathars, also known as the Albigensians, were a heresy that developed in southern France in the 12th century AD. It was an offshoot of a heresy that developed in the Balkans known as the Bogomils. This religion was very dualistic seeing the earth as evil and not a product of God’s goodness. They were highly persecuted by the Catholic Church. The author of this book is not objective in any way, not even treating those moments when the Cathars did terrible things to Catholics. He also does not treat many of the political questions that had an influence on how they were treated (e.g. the attempt of the French king to gain political power in this part of France). The Imperial Japanese Navy in the Pacific War by Mark Stille The beginning of this book is an outline of the history of the Japanese navy during the Second World War. Then the author goes into an evaluation and examination of each type of naval vessel that the Japanese built and used. This speaks about various classes of ships, but then goes on to speak of the history of each ship in that class. It is a little more information than I really wanted to handle. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, September 28, 2018

Rome - Nisiporesti, Romania - Rome

September 28, 2019 Peace and Good, Over these past couple of weeks I have been showing some friends and acquaintances around Rome. This is the one time that I get to see some of the sites, so I really enjoyed it all. The last guest left this Tuesday morning, so it is back to the normal schedule. Furthermore, on Friday a group of us flew to Romania for the beatification of Veronica Antal. She was a consecrated lay woman who was murdered during the days of communism. Her cause has been proposed since I first taught in Romania in the 1990's, and it was finally approved this past year. There were over 12,000 people and over 300 priests present. Her village is not all that big, but the church is very large. In fact, when the previous pastor rebuilt it, he was accused of overbuilding, of making something way too large. Now it is clear that he was prudent for there will be many pilgrims to her tomb in these coming years. Sunday we came back to Rome, and these past days we have been meeting in definitory. This was a bit shorter than most meetings, for we finished at Friday lunch (while we usually go through to Saturday lunch). I will be here in Rome until the day after St. Francis Day, October 5th. Then I head out on one of my usual journies: London, Oxford, San Antonio, Texas, Chicago, Rome and Ndola, Zambia. I have finished some reading: Dorothy Day: The World Will be Saved by Beauty by Kate Hennessy Kate Hennessy is the granddaughter of Dorothy Day, so this biography is an insider story of who Dorothy was and especially her relationship with her daughter Tamar. We hear a love/hate sort of relationship in which Dorothy was asking something of Tamar (to live as a faithful Catholic) which just wasn’t in her. We see Dorothy torn between acting as a mother and serving the ever growing needs of her Catholic Worker movement. This book presents Dorothy as a real person and not as a saint on a pedestal. Lagash and Eridu: the History and the Legacy of the Sumerian City by Charles River Editors These are actually two short books on Sumerian cities and the archaeological evidence that remains of their cultures, especially their religious devotional practices. They are a bit technical for the average reader, but they do provide a good amount of information for consideration of this culture that existed in Mesopotamia before the arrival of the Semitic cultures of the following generations. The Panic of 1907 by Sean Carr This is a financial crisis that I had never heard about. It was the crisis that led to the foundation of the Federal Reserve Bank. J.P. Morgan, rather than the tyrant and villain he is often portrayed as being, turns out to be the elder statesman who manages to limit the damage caused by the financial situation which began due to the failure of a financial scheme by some investors. The author gives a good analysis of what factors go into the origin and possible control of a crisis such as this. Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O’Reilly This is one of O’Reilly’s historic studies. This one deals with the closing months of the war in the Pacific during the Second World War. He gives a lot of detail and valuable information. I just wish that he did not have to be so polemic in his attack on Obama. It is as if he has to blame Obama for everything, even the Second World War. At the same time, this book and the one that I read on the death of General Patton are worth considering. Shakespeare: the World as a Stage by Bill Bryson This is a rather good biography of Shakespeare, with a long section at the end which debunks the many theories that propose that someone else wrote his plays or that he never even existed. The book does not go into the plays in any depth, but does give some good background information (admitting that there is not much information available on who Shakespeare was, where he lived, what he did for long stretches of time, etc.). Bill Bryson usually write humorous travel books, but he handled this particular topic quite well. Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. This is volume two of what must be intended to be a three or four volume series on the secretary to King Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell. It is a sympathetic portrait, where I have seen other versions of the story which portray him in a darker light. The first volume treated his dealings with the divorce of Henry from Katherine of Aragon. This one deals more with what happened to the marriage of Henry with Ann Boleyn. The author does a good job of creating a scene. Henry comes across as a spoiled egomaniac, which is probably not all that far off the mark. It was good reading. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Seoul, South Korea - Rome

September 16, 2018 Peace and Good, I finished my time in Seoul where I met with the definitory of the South Korean Province. I had been the visitator twice in a row, and this visit was halfway between the last chapter and the next one. It was a visit to see how things were going, and they are going quite well. I then travelled back to Rome. This week I have been hosting a friend, a priest from Ghana whom I know from when he stayed at our friary in Ellicott City while he was studying. I have given a retreat at the seminary where he was teaching, and also to the diocescan priests of his diocese. It is good when I have guests like this, for I get to see the sites of Rome that I don't see otherwise. My favorite church is of St. Clement, not all that far from the Colosseum. It is an 11th century church built upon a 4th century church built upon a series of appartments which it is believed to be the dwelling place of the fourth pope. The weather in Seoul was quite nice, but I was told that it had just broken a bit for it had been quite hot in previous weeks. The weather here in Rome is still summerlike. I have finished some books: The Cambridge Five: the History of the Notorious Soviet Spy Ring during World War II by Charles River Editors This is a quick account of the five Cambridge students during the inter-war period who agreed to spy for the Soviet Union. I have read a more complete account of Kim Philby lately, and this version is in agreement with the details of the other book. Typical of Charles River books, it is short and to the point (which has both advantages and disadvantages). Chernobyl and Three Mile Island by Charles River Editors This is a Charles River account of two separate nuclear disasters. It is really just a cobbling together of two related topics. The Three Mile Island accident was serious enough, but does not even have the slightest similarity to the seriousness of the Chernobyl disaster. The account gives both a good amount of information as well as first hand reactions to what happened and how it affected the lives of those involved. Antoni Gaudi the Life and Legacy of the Architect of Catalan Modernism by Charles River Editors Gaudi is a great architect from the Barcelona area who designed the long anticipated Church of the Holy Family. His style was decidedly unusual, and it marked a whole type of architecture that became famous between the two World Wars. He lived an ascetical life, and is now being proposed for beatification. There is no question that he was dedicated to his faith, but there was also a certain strangeness in him toward the end of his life. The League of Nations by Charles River Editors This is the story of the establishment and the short duration of the League of Nations. The short book goes into the developments before and during World War I which showed the world leaders the need for some sort of international organization to short circuit the mechanism of the march to war. Unfortunately, the US never joined the organization, and the economy of the world disintegrated during the Great Depression. Furthermore, many nations turned to autocratic governments that all but ignored the rulings of the league, while the democratic governments put up with the decisions of those governments in order to practice appeasement and keep the peace, eventually destroying the league. The History of the Goths by Charles River Editors This is the story of the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths, two eastern tribes that invaded both the Eastern and the Western Roman Empires. They were responsible, in fact, for the fall of the Western empire, the king of the Goths overthrowing the last Roman Emperor. It also deals with the attempts of the Eastern Emperor to invade the West and reestablish the empire. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, September 3, 2018

Rome - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam - Seoul, South Korea

September 4, 2018 Peace and Good, After a couple of days of rest following the General Chapter, I went out on the road again. The first trip was to Saigon in Vietnam. I had asked the Minister General to stop there on my way to Korea to attend the ordination to the priesthood of three of our friars and to the diaconate of two of the other friars. The delegation there is doing very well. The friars have a wonderful spirit, a real joyful attitude. There is a sense of hope and future possibilites. They are at an important point right now in their developement, for the first friars to complete formation are now leaving the seminary and the friars there have to find a number of new apostolates for them. Furthermore, the numbers in formation continue to be good, so I can see them becoming a custody at the end of four years or so. I travelled to Vietnam with fr. Louis. P, who is the Secretary for Formation for the Order. This was his first time there, while I have visited four or five times already. The friars there are building a new seminary for their postulants (the first stage for those coming into the Order). They only began a couple of months ago, but it is already well along. The Vietnamese are quite industrious, and they tend to finish projects beforetime and under budget. On Sunday I flew to Seoul which was about five and a half hours from Saigon. I am here to do a half term visit to a province that I have visited canonically twice already. At the end of a visitation, we give a series of recommendations, and I am here to see how they are doing with what was suggested. I have finished some reading: The Enthusiast by Jon Sweeney This is the story of Brother Elias, one of the early companions of St. Francis. He was one of the first Minister Generals of the Order, but after the death of Francis he seems to have betrayed the charism of the Order’s founder. He even ended up being excommunicated for his siding with the Holy Roman Empire against the Pope. The book is supposed to be about Elias, but it really is more about Francis with Elias thrown in until after Francis’ death. World War II Biographies by Hourly History This is a series of short biographies on such figures as Ernst Rommel, Benito Mussolini, Adolph Hitler, George Patton and Joseph Stalin. The presentations are a quick overview, but they nevertheless provide some good information on each of these people and how they influenced the outcome of the war. Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child I have read a number of books by the team of Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston which includes the Special Agent Prendergast series. This one is by Lincoln Child alone and it deals with an Artic expedition to find traces of previous eras in the melting ice (due to global warming) of a glacier. The team comes across a frozen animal, possibly a saber tooth tiger. The TV firm that is funding the expedition decides to defrost the animal live on TV. They send a team for this TV special. The animal, though disappears. It has defrosted itself and it turns out to be a much more dangerous animal than expected. The rest of the book is about the team’s hunting it and its hunting them. It is quite well done. The Khufra Run by Jack Higgins A nun is looking for a plane full of treasure that her family tried to carry out of Algeria around the time of independence. She finds two disreputable but nevertheless not that bad characters who assist her in the hunt, the proceeds of which will be used to build a hospital for the needy. An evil Algerian colonel seeks to steal the treasure. This particular volume by Higgins bears a remarkable similarity to another of his books in which the treasure is hidden in a delta in Vietnam. The Name of God is Mercy by Pope Francis This is a two part book. The first part is an extended interview of Pope Francis on the topic of mercy. The second part is the text of the document that he wrote to inaugurate the Holy Year of Mercy that we celebrated a couple of years ago. There is nothing new here, but it is good to hear what it contains. Wolfgand Amadeus Mozart by Hourly History This is one of the short biographies that speaks of the life and times of Mozart. It gives an honest appraisal of his life and influences, especially that of his father. It shows how he learned from previous masters and was a source of learning for those who followed. It speaks of some of the misconceptions contained in the famous movie Amadeus. This is well done. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, August 27, 2018

Nemi - Assisi - Rome

August 27, 2018 Peace and Good, I am writing this from Santi Apostoli, my home in Rome. We finished our General Chapter this past Saturday. We were up in Nemi, which is just outside the city near Castel Gondolfo, for the chapter. The retreat center where we stayed was on a hill overlooking Lake Nemi, a volcanic lake. This has always been a place for Romans who wanted to escape the heat of the city during August. It was actually quite comfortable each evening. Strangely, there has been over a week of thunder storms almost every day. This is the first time that I remember this happening at this time of year in Italy. The chapter has now passed the constitution and in a couple of weeks we will be handing it over to the Vatican (the Congregation for Religious) for their approval. That process should take about a year. We have our ordinary chapter in late May of this coming year. I will be heading out to Vietnam and South Korea tomorrow. Vietnam is an ordination of two of our friars from Vietnam who have been studying here in Rome along with one living in Vietnam, and Korea will be a meeting with the provincial and his definitory. I was the visitator there twice in these years, and now I am visiting them half way before the next visitation to see how they are doing. I have finished some reading: All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot This is about the first years of the career of the veterinarian James Herriot. It thought from the title that the book was going to be about the animals, but instead it is about his relationship with the veterinarian who hires him and gives him experience, the vets brother who is incredibly irresponsible but at the same time fun, the woman who would become his wife, and many of the characters into whom he came into contact. In spite of my misconception concerning the content of the book, I found in enjoyable. Empire of Cotton by Sven Beckert This is an extensive treatment of the growth, use and business of cotton. There is a tremendous amount of information contained in the book, but I often found that I wished he had used a better editor for it was often repetitive. He speaks of the early years of the use of cotton when it was tied in with the colonialist movement which was based on terror and conquest. The later period of its use was tied to the industrial revolution (cotton in fact being one of the catalysts of that event) and the capitalist exploitation of poorer parts of the world (often destroying their homegrown industries to force them into cultivation of cotton, which was a far less rewarding enterprise). It was well worth reading, but, as I said, the book could have used a bit of work before it was published. April 1865 by Jay Winik The title pretty much tells one what this book is all about. It is about the last month of the Civil War in the United States, which includes the conquest of Richmond, the surrender of Lee and the other generals, the death of Abraham Lincoln, the confusion sewn by the assassination, and the end of the Confederacy. The author is more sympathetic to the plight of people living in the south after the war, which is probably good to get a different perspective than that which one often receives. The book is well written. Ghana Must Go: A Novel by Taiye Selasi The is the story of how a family from Ghana living in the US heals after the death of their patriarch. The mother (an Ibo from Nigeria) had been divorced by her Ghanaian husband, and she attempted to bring up her four children. Each of them was somewhat damaged by what had happened, the their journey to Ghana for the funeral of the surgeon ex who had died of a heart attack proves to be the crisis that forces the family to face some ugly issues and get over them. It is very, very interesting to hear a story from a different cultural starting point which ultimately is not fully either Ghanaian nor American, for like many immigrant families they are neither and both. Secret Weapons of World War II by Gerald Pawle This is an overview of the special squad established to experiment with odd concepts during the Second World War. This was a favorite endeavor of Winston Churchill who often had outrageous ideas that sometimes turned out to be quite brilliant. The greatest difficulty of the inventors was to be listened to by the establishment organization which tried to kill any creativity before it could get off the ground. I really could not recommend this book because it turns out to be wordy and gives more detail than most readers would like, but it was interesting all the same. 12 Major World Religions by Jason Boyett This is a quick overview of the twelve major world religions, with a bit of their history, their major figures, their major sources of literature, their geographic extension, etc. It is really very cursory, but it nevertheless gives some good information on some religions that are not usually treated in a similar study such as the Jains, the Baha’i, etc. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, August 13, 2018

Nemi, Italy

August 13, 2018 Peace and Good, We have finished the third week of our Extraordinary General Chapter. Things are going quite well. We are actually ahead of schedule, although not enough that we could finish early. It just means that we will not have to work from morning to night as we have in the earlier part of the chapter. There are a couple of committees, though, which put in a lot of hours once we have finished our work, and I admire their commitment. One of the friars from my province, fr. Tim Kulbicki, was instrumental in the revising of the constitutions, and he is basically running the chapter. He is doing a fine job. We will finish two weeks from yesterday. The Friday before we end will be a one day pilgrimage to Assisi to celebrate what we have done. Saturday after lunch I travelled into the city to sleep in my own bed at least one night. It felt great to get off the property where we have been for the past three weeks. The city was very hot, probably about 10 degrees farenheit warmer than here. Furthermore, there were 60,000 young people in pilgrimage there to meet the pope, so the city was very crowded. I am still preaching every morning. I am down to about 10 more days of preaching. I have finished some reading: The Titanic and the Lusitania This is one of the Charles River Editor books which is actually a combination of two shorter books on the Titanic (its building, its luxury, its passengers, its sinking and the aftermath) and the Lusitania (a passenger ship that was torpedoed and sank off the shore of Ireland during World War I with a large loss of life, including many Americans. This proved to be a remote cause of the US entry into the war. The difficulty with the Lusitania is that it was later discovered that the ship was carrying more munitions than was allowed by a passenger ship, something that the Germans had claimed all along. The twelfth Imam by Joel Rosenberg I have to say this is one of the most disappointing books I have read in a long time. The author has talent when he writes about spy craft in Iran, but then he resorts to the lowest ethnic slurs and attacks on Islam all in the name of proposing Christianity. The twelfth Iman proves to be a diabolic figure who is opposed by Jesus who appears (and mouths pious Gospel verses and is a cardboard figure in this book) and the CIA. This is one of those examples of Christian literature which commits the heresy of implying that the US is always on God’s side and anyone who opposes the US is with the devil. An Army at Dawn by Rick Atkinson This is the story of the first major ally offensive against the Germans and their allies in World War II – in North Africa. The author is fair to all of the participants, speaking of the American unreadiness for combat (which quickly diminished as the troops learned their role) and the British arrogance (especially certain British generals who looked down on the Americans when they themselves had little about which they could brag at this period of the war). This is part of a trilogy on American involvement in the war, and it is very well written. Ghosh, Amitav In an Antique Land This is a very interesting book about a student anthropologist who visits Egypt (the ancient land in the title) and comes across an account of traders and a particular slave/partner of the traders from India, the author’s homeland. These passages were found in the Cairo Geniza, a storage room in an ancient synagogue that contained discarded sacred texts along with almost anything else written by the community. He deals with human relationships in the villages where he lives, and the peasants’ incomprehension of anything that lay many kilometers outside of their village. It is a book that invites one to imagine other worlds and times, and is very, very well written. Cod by Mark Kurlansky This author has taken to writing books on a particular topic such as cod, or salt, or paper. He studies the history of the use of the item. In this book, he includes a number of historic recipes for the use of cod. He also speaks of how it was tied to the slave trade (for dried cod was a cheap source of protein for the slave plantations on the sugar islands. Finally, he deals with the overfishing and the collapse of the cod population in many parts of the world. He is an excellent author, and this is worth reading Black Fire, the True Story of the Original Tom Sawyer by Robert Graysmith This is the story of the original Tom Sawyer whom Mark Twain met in San Francisco and used as a model (at least in terms of his name) for his famous work. The book deals with the problem of lawlessness in the early days of San Francisco, especially with the case of arson set by outlaws to cause panic and give them an opportunity to loot the gold being held in various safes throughout the city. The author also recounts the origin of the vigilante movement in the city. The style of writing is folksy, and while I enjoyed it, might not be appreciated by everyone. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Nemi, Italy

August 4, 2018 Peace and Good, We have been in Nemi, not all that far from Castel Gondolfo, just outside of Italy, holding our General Chapter. We had to work out some growing pains during the first few days, but it is now going smoothly. Each morning I give a reflection at Mass in Italian and English. It is just a short thought to get the friars thinking, and so far it has gone very well. We meet six days a week, from morning to evening. It is a lot of work, but we just finished our 100th vote, with another 560 to come. I have finished some reading: Americanos by Charles River Editors This short book deals with many of the famous figures who fought for independence in Latin America from Spain and Portugal. The author shows how like our own revolution, it was not an easy struggle. Much, in fact, depended on the invasion of Napoleon into Spain and Portugal which was the spark that ignited the call for freedom. Like our own founding fathers, most of the figures in this story are a bit flawed. One sees this especially in the tendency to massacre the immigrants from Spain by those who were born in the new world and especially by those who had mixed ancestries. Away Off Shore by Nathaniel Philbrick This is a history of the rise and fall of Nantucket. It started out as a refuge from some people fleeing the authority of the Congregationalists in Boston. Eventually it made its riches first in fishing and then in hunting for and processing whales. For some time, many of the inhabitants embraced Quakerism (but of a very capitalist bent). This book also deals with the relationship between the inhabitants and the native Americans on the island, which started out quite good but ended in tragedy. New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton This is a book on the concept and process of contemplation. Much of the work deals with what it is not rather than with what it is, which is necessary given that there are so many mistaken ideas on what it means to be a contemplative. He speaks of passing outside of one’s own little world into the fathomless reality of God which cannot be described or measured. This really is a fine book, something I could easily recommend to someone in spiritual direction of a certain maturity. I say this because I am glad I did not read it when I was younger for I am not sure that I would really have understood most of what he was saying. America Scoundrel by Thomas Keneally This is the story of John Sickles, a famous Civil War General. He started out as a pawn of the Tammany Hall group in New York. He was a congressman in the line of President Buchanan, ready to extend to southerners whatever they desired in terms of slavery in order to preserve the union. When the south broke away, however, he became a fervent unionist. His greatest battle was Gettysburg where he moved his troops in a very controversial manner, leaving them open to attack by General Longstreet of the rebels. He lost a leg in the war, and afterward served as an envoy of the government. Along with his eventful political and military life, there is a very controversial personal life. He was a constant philanderer, but had the nerve to kill his own wife’s lover. He reconciled with his wife, but then ignored her for years on end. He truly was a scoundrel. Maimonides by David Yellin and Israel Abrahams This is a famous philosopher and scholar from the Middle Ages who codified much of the Jewish legislation at the time. He also produced the vastly important philosophic work, A Guide for the Perplexed Mind. He helped guide his community through many difficulties, all the times serving as the physician for the Muslim leader of Egypt. Stonehenge by Jesse Harasta and Charles River Editors This is an overview of the site of Stonehenge in England and the various theories of its meaning and construction. It also deals with its use/misuse in the modern era, both in terms of archaeological discoveries and in terms of New Age religions, especially the revival of the Druid cult. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, July 27, 2018

Rome - Nemi

July 27, 2018 Peace and Good, I returned from Nairobi just in time to get ready to head out to Nemi for our General Chapter. Nemi is not all that far from Castel Gondolfo, the residence where previous popes would spend their summer. It is in the hills outside of Rome (hills which are extinct vulcanoes). It is a bit cooler than Rome, usually around 8 degrees, which makes it very welcoming. In fact, many ancient figures had summer houses in this area. The chapter will last for five weeks. We are revising our constitutions which requires a lot of discussion and over 700 votes. I have been asked to preach each day in Italian and English. It is only a short homily each morning - an outline of the topics in the readings and an application to what we are doing in those days. At the end of the day, a taped version is placed on our Order's web site along with an outline of the homily in the four official languages of the Order (English, Italian, Spanish and Polish). It is just a spiritual shot in the arm before we face a day of discussion and debate. I have finished some reading: A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintyre This is an account of Kim Philby, one of the famous Oxford five, students at Oxford who became spies for the KGB and rose in status in the British Secret Services (especially MI6). Macintyre has written a number of true spy stories, and he is a good author. This version of the story deals especially with the friends whom Philby cultivated and how they defended him over the years in the numerous times that he was accused of being a double agent. It shows how the English upper class took care of their own, even at the cost of betraying the nation. The Fall of Dynasties by Edmond Taylor This book deals with World War I and the fall of four dynasties: that of Germany, that of Austro-Hungary, that of Russia, and that of the Ottoman Empire. It speaks of the inner rot in most of these dynasties, and the almost inevitable forces that led to their downfall. It also follows the story a bit after their downfall to speak of what happened to the newly independent fragments of the empires. It is quite good. The Edge of the World by Michael Pye This book is an epic history of civilization and especially trade in the North Sea for the earliest historic times to the beginning of the modern era. I had purchased it because I was especially interested in the history of the Hansiatic League, a loose federation of trading cities in Belgium, Netherlands, Northern Germany and Northern Poland and even Sweden and the Baltic States. It covered this topic well, but also many others such as the effects of the Black Death, the role of women in this society (surprisingly advanced), Learning in the Universities, the movement of the Beguines (a lay women movement of spirituality and mutual support), the Vikings, etc. The Death of Caesar by Barry Straus This is an account of the assassination plot and death of Caesar with the immediate effects upon the Roman Republic. Barry Straus paints a good picture of what was happening. His style reminded me of the writings of Anthony Everitt who is a very good author on this era. I would recommend this book. The Great Dissent by Thomas Healy This book deals with the friendships and influences upon Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, a jurist at the beginning of the 20th century, whose opinion in a Freedom of Speech case was a minority opinion but which came to shape the way that the Supreme Court interprets the right of the freedom of speech. He invented or at least used the criterion that speech had to present a clear and present danger before it could be curtailed. He further argued that opposing speech, even that which one clearly disdains, can be helpful to develop a fuller sense of the truth. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, July 20, 2018

Rome - Nairobi - Rome

July 20, 2018 Peace and Good, This past week was taken up with a quick trip to Kenya. The custody there was having an extraordinary chapter, and fr. Thaddeus, the Assistant General for Africa, and fr. Casimir, the custos, asked me to come down and help them with the spiritual dimension of their decision making. They were meeting to decide whether to ask to become a province or not. I had been the General Visitator for the past two chapters, so I knew the situation well. There were two other presenters. The first presented the question from the point of view of canon law, and the second from the point of view of the economy. I was surprised at how cool the weather was while we were there. It was in the 60's and low 70's every day. This is their cooler season, and even though Kenya is on the equator, Nairobi is on a plateau which is over a mile high which makes the weather much more temperate. I left Kenya early Thursday morning, and was not there for the final vote. I have heard in the meantime that they voted with a 2/3's vote to ask the General Chapter next year to become a province, which I think is a very good decision. They will be one of two new provinces in the Order, the other being Indonesia. I have finished some reading: Catherine the Great by Hourly History This is one of those short overviews of the life and career of an historic figure. These accounts are under 100 pages, and they only present the general outline of the story, but they give enough information to be able to shape an educated opinion on the topic. In this case, we see the contradictory opinions and actions of a woman who esteemed the enlightenment and yet ruled like an autocrat. Maya to Aztec: Ancient Mesoamerica Revealed by Edwin Barnhart This is a teaching company course that deals with the civilizations of Meso-America including the Aztec, Maya, Tolmec and Olmec. It speaks of their cultures, religions, recreations, food, etc. It deals with the mysterious disappearance of whole populations from certain cities which were abandoned (plague, famine, the end of an era on their calendars??). The professor who presents the course is good, but the length of the course sometimes means that he gives more information than that which would really interest me in a particular archaeological dig. A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva Like most of Silva’s books, this is about Gabriel Allon, a Mossad agent. He is trying to find out who assassinated some women at a claims office for persecuted Jews. He finds that the prime suspect is a hidden former Nazi officer who was responsible for covering up what the Nazi’s had done to the Jews during the war. The most dangerous aspect of the story is that officer is the father of the main candidate for being prime minister of Austria. The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston I have read a number of novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. This is a true story of an expedition to a jungle covered city in Honduras which is called the while city or the lost city of the monkey god. Douglas Preston accompanied the expedition as a reporter for National Geographic. It was an incredibly dangerous trip, and in fact, most of those on the trip came down with a dangerous tropical parasite. They had discovered the city by running a new type of radar over the jungle and they found shapes which were obviously a manmade city. The book is quite good. Lincoln’s Spymaster by Samantha Seiple This is the story of Alan Pinkerton. He was one of America’s first detectives. He served the Union during the Civil War, especially in protecting the newly elected president from an assassination plot while he was on his way to Washington. The account is positive, and avoids speaking of some of the more sordid episodes when the Pinkerton’s were used against organized labor. It is a good, although not very profound book. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Rome

July 11, 2018 Peace and Good, I have been in Rome for the past ten days now. It is very hot, but the city is filled with tourists. We started our General Definitory meeting on Monday, and we will continue til the end of the week. Then I am off to Nairobi for a chapter with the friars. They are gathering to decide whether they will ask to become a province in these years. I really think they are ready, but they are a bit cautious at this moment (which, itself, is a good sign - it means that they are not irrational in their desire to become a province before they are ready). I finished some reading: The Borgias by G. J. Meyer This tells the story of Alexander VI and his children (or nephews and nieces). The greatest of the younger generation was Cesare Borgia, whom Machiavelli used as his model of what the perfect prince would be. Meyer is clearly writing an apologia, arguing that any charge against the Borgias was made up by their enemies. One has to wonder. Nevertheless, it is a good overview of the family’s influence on the Church and Italy. The Alienist by Caleb Carr In the early 1900’s, people who had mental illness were considered to be like aliens, so early psychiatrists were known as alienists. This is the story of a Hungarian immigrant alienist who works with a newspaper reporter and a few members of the police department in New York as well as the Superintendent of the Police Commission, Theodore Roosevelt. They battle to discover the murderer of a number of young male prostitutes. The book is well done and worth reading. I believe it was recently made into a movie The Berlin Wall by Frederick Taylor This is a thorough history of the construction, maintenance and eventual fall of the Berlin Wall. It goes into the politics of East Germany, as well as how this all effected the Soviet Union, the US, Great Britain and France. It is especially good at sorting out the mixed responses to the wall by various political figures. It is also good at dealing with the Byzantine politics of the communist state. It is well worth reading. Before 1776: Life in the American Colonies by Professor Robert Allison This is one of the Great Courses and it deals with the colonization of what became the thirteen colonies of the United States. The professor is very good, and he gave information which was both familiar and of which I had never heard before. As always, I highly recommend these courses. The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan by Rick Perlstein This is a thorough and entertaining review of the fall of Nixon and the gradual and almost inevitable rise of Ronald Reagan from his youth up to his failure to take the nomination against Gerald Ford. The author has done enormous research, and he weaves together the themes of his presentation. He does that without ever getting tedious. Some of the topics could be applied just as well to what is currently going on in the country. I recommend this book. No End Save Victory: How FDR led the Nation into War by Robert Crowley, ed. This is a series of essays that speak about the lead up to World War II, including topics on the US government and the isolationist opposition, the need to ramp up production of armaments, especially after the disaster of the depression, the politics of Germany and Japan, etc. It is a long treatment, but well worth reading. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Chicago - Rome

July 5, 2018 Peace and Good, The chapter for St. Bonaventure Province ended a bit early on Thursday, so I had most of Friday to catch up with some paperwork before I flew out to Rome on Saturday. On Friday evening I did attend a wake service for one of our friars, fr. Fran McGann, who had passed away the week before while he was on retreat in Steubenville, Ohio. He was a later vocation, and came into the Order as a permanent deacon. He was in his later 70's when he passed away suddenly. It is quite hot in Rome, but not disasterously like it becomes in August. This coming week we have a definitory, and then the week after I head off with a couple of friars to Nairobi for an extraordinary custodial chapter. The friars there are meeting to decide whether they would like to ask the Order to become a province. I think they are ready to ask, even if the change would not necessarily take effect for a couple of years. I have done visitation in the custody twice, so I know the situation quite well. I have finished some reading: Operation Shakespeare: The True Story of and Elite International Sting by John Shiffman This is the story of one attempt to block the shipment to Iran of certain materials which had been declared out of bounds by the US government. It was a sting operation on a purchaser who worked indirectly for the Iranian government. It deals both with the law enforcement issues, but also with the larger geo-political issues. Crimson Shore by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child This volume of the Agent Prendergast series opens with a theft of a precious wine collection in a New England village. Prendergast and his ward visit the village and he agrees to take on the case. It is much more complicated than one would have first thought, dealing with modern murders, with older mass murders, and with a coven of witches who have remained hidden for centuries. These Prendergast volumes always take a degree of the suspension of credulity, but they are also always entertaining. Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq By Stephen Kinzer This is an overview of the tendency of our country which is dedicated to liberty and democracy has been involved in plots which were anything but that. It covers the overthrow of the monarchy in Hawaii and the eventual annexation of the islands, the overthrow the government in Iran in the 50’s, the overthrow of the government in Guatemala, the assassination of the president of Vietnam, the assassination of President Allende in Chile, the invasion of Panama, Grenada and Iraq, etc. I think the most revealing thing to me is how our Secretary of State in the 50’s invaded countries and overthrew regimes based on the economic welfare of companies which had exploited the people of those countries. Cuba by Stephen Coonts This is a novel that takes place around the time of the death of Castro (fictional death, not the actual events). The head of the security department tries to take over the government which Castro wanted to go to someone else. He has missiles left over from the Cuban missile crisis, and he has filled them with biologic agents which he intends to use against the US. The book tells of the military intervention to sabotage this plot. At times the writing is a touch jingoistic, but overall it is a good story. The Unlikely Spy by Daniel Silva This was an unusual book by Silva. Most of his books are about Gabriel Allon a Mossad agent. This one is about the plot to deceive the Nazi’s during the war concerning where the D Day landings would occur. The story is filled with levels and levels of deception. It reminds me of a Ken Follett or a Jack Higgins book. It was quite good. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz I had read this book many years ago, but I wanted to listen to it again. The narrator in this series has a soothing, kind voice. The plot of the book, that Odd (that is his name) has the ability to see and help ghosts, is well presented. The characters are lovable, and there is a fundamental goodness in what they are trying to do. It is one of those books that, in spite of a bit of severe violence, makes me feel good at the end. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Buffalo - Chicago

June 27, 2018 Peace and Good, I am finally at the last of the chapters in the US. This one has just begun, but it appears as if it will not go on all that long. There are only a handful of motions. I am hoping that we will be finished by Thursday lunch. Saturday I fly back to Rome, the first time I will be there in three months. We have a definitory meeting this coming week, and then I will fly out to Nairobi for another chapter. The one in Kenya will be to decide whether that custody should ask to become a province at the General Chapter next spring. I have done their canonical visitation twice already, and they have asked me to offer a spiritual reflection to help guide them in this discernment. The weather here in Chicago is rainy and stormy. They have had a very wet May (the wettest on record) and June. The weather everywhere seems strange this year. On Friday we will have the wake and on Saturday the funeral of one of our friars here at Marytown. He was elderly, but died suddenly while on retreat. He was a later vocation. Before he entered he had been a bartender and a permanent deacon. His name was fr. Fran McGann. Please keep him in your prayers. I have finished some reading: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks This is a book in the style of the Michener books. It presents a story which develops over a long period of time. It is about the attempt of a book restorer to work on a Passover book which is beautifully illustrated with miniatures, something that was very uncommon among that type of books. The book is being help in Sarajevo during the civil war, and is in danger of being destroyed by some fundamentalist or rightist terrorist. The restorer is the daughter of a brain surgeon of monumental narcissism, and she careens between her professional duty and an angry relationship with her mother. The book is very good. The New Deal by Michael Hilzik This is the first of Hilzik’s books that I have read, and I would be more than willing to read more. I listened to this particular book, and it is a very thorough, very thoughtful presentation of the history of the New Deal. While sympathetic to what Roosevelt tried to do, he is also critical of some aspects of what happened. It is interesting to hear how Roosevelt played one side against the other, and was not exactly the most truthful of people. Nevertheless, his efforts, while not totally successful, helped pull the country back from the abyss. Lincoln Unbound by Rich Lowry This is an overview of the work of Lincoln from the point of view of a conservative Republican who believes in the value of hard work and initiative. He hold that Lincoln, who came from the farmland and frontier, believed in the principal that the government should assist the individual to make the most of himself, but not interfere too much in the process. As with any figure such as Lincoln, he can quote statements to support his beliefs, just as those who would oppose his premises could also quote statements saying the opposite. The book is a little too polemical for my taste, but it was not a bad read. The Katyn Forest Massacre by Charles River Editors This is an overview of the massacre of Polish army officers and officials by the Soviet authorities in the forests of Katyn at the beginning of World War II. They did this to destroy the ruling class of Poland so that they could reshape society in their own image. Their crime was discovered by the Nazis when they invaded the Soviet Union, and ironically they called in neutral investigators to examine the crime scene (as if the Nazis hadn’t done the same or worse on their own land.) For as much as the Soviets tried to deny all of this, the truth came out in the days of Gorbicov. The Message of Walsingham: England’s Nazareth by R.W. Connelly This is the story of a Marian shrine in Great Britain. I chose to read this book because the friars there have been invited to serve at the shine, and I wanted to know more about it. It was founded in 1061, destroyed by King Henry VIII, and rebuilt by Anglicans and Catholics in two separate spots in this past century. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude Winkler

Monday, June 18, 2018

Castro Valley, CA - Buffalo, NY

June 18, 2018 Peace and Good, I was in California this past week for the provincial chapter of St. Joseph of Cupertino Province. This week I will be in Buffalo for the chapter of Our Lady of Angels Province, my home province. This has been a busy time, travelling from one city to another each week. This morning, in fact, I was speaking to one of the friars who said something about being "here" and it took me a few seconds to figure out where "here" was. One of the things that really impressed me this past week was the massive commitment that the California Province has made toward their mission in Vietnam. The mission is going very well, and the only thing holding back the numbers is the amount of space available for men in formation. The chapter decided to give approval for the construction of a new building to hold the postulants (which is the first step in the formation process). After this week, I will be heading off to Chicago for the last week of chapters in the States. From there, I will head back to Rome for a week and then off to Nairobi for a week of chapter. I finished some reading: The Grammar of God by Aviya Kushner I wish this book had been better for the premise was very good – a study of how the English translation of Sacred Scripture differs from the nuances that one finds in the original Hebrew. Yet, it fails to deliver. The author gets caught up in her own life and its difficulties, and she goes on and on about how the English translation gets it all wrong. (Unfortunately, much of what she used to prove this is commentary by rabbis who lived over several hundred if not thousands of years after the text was written.) Japan’s Countdown by Eri Hatta This is the history of the year before Pearl Harbor from a Japanese perspective. We so often hear about what the Americans did or did not do, and this was refreshing for its honesty and complexity in dealing with Japan’s rush to war. (In the decision to go to war, the Japanese were not even sure who the enemy should be, for they were torn between the US and England and the Soviet Union.) We hear about the two levels of debate and positions taken by the men running Japan, that for public consumption and that which they really felt. We also hear about the danger that they faced from fanatical forces that had already assassinated several government officials. Whatever you do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide by Peter Allison This is an interesting collection of anecdotes collected by a safari guide. The author is from Australia, and ends up working in Botswana. The title comes from the recommendation that one encounters what appears to be a dangerous animal, the last thing one should do is run from it. The book is quite entertaining. The War that Killed Achilles by Caroline Alexander This is a retelling of the action in the book by Homer the Iliad. The scholar who presents the action is able to deal both with the inside story and those details of ancient history and myth (and even at times the history of warfare) that make the story come alive. We see one week in the history of the siege of the city of Troy, for that is all that the story covers. There is the question of pride and honor which color all that happens. I highly recommend this book. Nazareth: the History and Legacy of the Hometown of Jesus Christ by Charles River Editors This is one of those short studies of various topics. This one is about Nazareth, from its foundation until the present. It especially deals with Nazareth at the time of Jesus and then of the shrines that were built to commemorate various events in his life. The Spy’s Son by Bryan Denson This is the true story of a spy who originally worked for the CIA, but who betrayed his country to the Soviet Union. He is eventually caught and sent to prison. While there, he sets to work to continue his espionage again, but this time using his youngest son as a courier to the Russian Secret Services. The book gives a good overview of the type of work Harold James Nicholson did before his betrayal. While certain reasons are given for his betrayal, the bottom line for what he did seems to be some malignant effect of his extreme narcissism. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Ellicott City, MD - Mesilla Park, NM - Castro Valley, CA

June 10, 2018 Peace and Good, I have started on the cycle of the Provincial Chapters for our four provinces in the US. The first one was held in Mesilla Park, NM, which is about an hour outside of El Paso, TX. The chapter went from Monday to Thursday. There were 24 of us meeting there. There was a very good spirit amont the friars, and the chapter ended with a hopeful atmosphere. The heat was tremendous. Every day it hit 100. On my flight yesterday from El Paso to Oakland, I passed through Phoenix were the temperature reached 106. Yes, yes - it was a dry heat - but still. In Mesilla Park, one of the friars said that when the humidity reaches 35 percent, they are all complaining how humid it is. This week the California province has its chapter in Castro Valley, a town just outside of Oakland. Then from here to Buffalo for the Our Lady of Angels Province Chapter. These chapters are the second part of the meetings. The first was held about a month ago, and in the meantime each province has been preparing its plans to present to the friars. I was largely responsible for running the first part of the chapters, but this time around I get to sit back and help out now and then when there is a technical question. I finished some reading: The Drug Hunters by Donald Kirsch and Ogi Ogas This book is written by a man who worked in the pharmaceutics industry in research. The author explain how various types of drugs were discovered (by accident, by search, by purposly designing them, etc.) He also explains why this type of work is so incredibly expensive, especially for the testing procedures that are required to bring a new drug to market. Elixir by David Bunn This is a Christian novel about a man who is hired to find a woman to whom he was engaged and whom he betrayed. He ends up on an island off of Scotland where he finds a brother in a pilgrimage hostel who, while being a bit of a miserable person, nevertheless guides him on the right path. He then travels to the Basque country in southern France where he finds the woman whom he is seeking. She had travelled there commune with a man who has found a remarkable new medicine from various herbs hidden in the mountains there. Semper Fidelis by Ruth Downie This is a story of Medicus, a Roman doctor for one of the legions serving in the British Isles and his wife Tillie. They try to get to the bottom of a series of deaths among British novice soldiers. It turns out to be the fault of a group of centurions who are doing very bad things. The story also coincides with the visit of the emperor Hadrian and his wife (remember, Hadrian was the emperor who built Hadrian’s wall separating England from Scotland to keep the barbarian Scots north of the border). This whole series about Medicus is excellent. Winston’s War by Max Hastings This is an account of World War II from the point of view of Winston Churchill. It deals with his actions, his personality, his difficulties, etc. One thing that is very interesting is the view that the British had of Americans during the war. The author proposes that they respected the Russians more than the Americans who had not entered the war when they were first needed, and then took advantage of the situation to receive their last penny for the help we gave them. It is interesting to see the story from a very different point of view. Hastings is a very good war author and this is another of his triumphs. The History of the Popes by Wyatt North This is a three volume (short volumes) history of the Popes from St. Peter to Pope Francis. Obviously, the treatment of each pope is cursory, but it is nevertheless informative and well worth reading. The author gives a biography of each pope along with his major accomplishments. He does not hide from the scandals of some of the popes, but likewise, he does not revel in them. He gives a good overview of movements in the Church and the reasons why they succeeded or failed. I would recommend this book to those who wish to get an overview that can be very helpful. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, June 1, 2018

Ellicott City, MD - London - Ellicott City, MD

June 1, 2018 Peace and Good, I hope you are all well. I have spent the past few weeks in Ellicott City and Ocean City, MD to recover from my small medical procedure at the beginning of the month and to rest up a bit. I have been travelling so much that I found my sleep patterns were not returning to normal. This month, living for the most part in one time zone, helped a lot. I feel much better than I did for quite some time. I did have to travel to London for a few days this past week for a meeting. We have been working with our Custody to help them get develop the procedures that they need. They are a young jurisdiction, and up to now they have done the best they could, but it is time to pass to the next level of organization. The meeting and some other informal meetings went very well. I was able to get a good walk in London while I was there. I visited Foyle's which is one of the best book stores I have ever seen. I often have topics in history that are a bit unusual. I might just find a book at a book store on that topic. At Foyle's there are usually five or six books on it. I also went to Chinatown and was able to get one of my favorite dishes - Tripe soup. I grew up eating tripe that my father had prepared. I am back in Ellicott City just for a day, and tomorrow I will be heading out to New Mexico for the provincial chapter of Our Lady of Consolation Province (not far from El Paso, Texas). I finished some books: The Master Sniper by Stephen Hunter This is a story set in Germany at the end of the Second World War. The Germans have invented a special weapon that can shoot in the dark with amazing accuracy. They plan to use it to assassinate a young child who is the heir of a great fortune from a Jewish family so that the funds would not be used to finance the Zionist movement. The plot is a bit far fetches, but there are moments of description that make reading the book worthwhile. The Quakers: The History and Legacy of the Religious Society of Friends by Charles River Editors This is an interesting overview of this non-conformist religion which began in Great Britain and has spread all throughout the world. They are not an especially numerous religious group, but their pacificism and abolitionism have greatly affected the Western World. An interesting tidbit is that two of the most important cholactiers in Great Britian, Roundtree and Cadbury, were both founded by Quakers. The Quaker name was actually a nickname imposed on them by others for the way that they felt they should quake in the presence of God (much as the Shakers said the same thing, using the word shake instead of quake). Obviously, for many, the most famous Quaker was William Penn, the propriater and founder of the colony of Pennsylvania. Princes at War by Deborah Cadbury This is the story of the abdication of King Edward VIII and the assumption of the throne of King George VI just before World War II. George comes across as a shy and ill prepared monarch who stepped up to the challenge of leading his country through an indredibly difficult time. Edward, on the other hand, and his wife, seem to be self-seeking cads. They are only concerned with titles and money and honors, even when the country was at a crisis point. There even seems to be some evidence that Edward was negotiating with the Nazis to take over as king if the Germans were to conquer Great Britain The book is well written, but has a bit of snobbery about it. About Face by Patricka Marx This is an article that examines the fade in Korea for plastic surgery. Many, many people, men and women, seek it to perfect their image. The author deals with the fact that the external is often considered to be more important in Korea that what is in one’s heart. It is a good overview. The Footprints of God by Greg Isles A scientific team manages to perfect a minute scan of people’s brains and then to communicate that information to a super computer which not only has the past information but can continue to think and develop in artificial intelligence. The problem is that the person whose brain is eventually imprinted in the computer has a thurst for power, and through computer connections, threatens to become a dictator of the world. The book is a bit improbable, but asks questions such as what does it mean to be God like, how is it that the male and female mind complement each other, can one individual be a perfect mind, etc. Unfortunately, the author reduces the concept of God to pure thought, and does not recognize God as person. Carthage must be Destroyed: the Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization by Richard Miles Carthage was the traditional enemy of the Roman Republic during the days of its expansion in the Mediterranean. Rome fought three wars against it, including the second war in which Hannibal attacked Italy through the Alps. One hears how Cato the Elder, a bit of a miserable person, concluded each speech to the Roman Senate with the phrase that Rome had to be destroyed. It eventually was, only to be rebuilt later in the history of the Roman Empire. The book gives a good overview of the history, culture, and religion of Carthage, a colony of the Phoenician Empire. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Chicago - Ellicott City, MD

May 19, 2018 Peace and Good, I finished up the chapter in Chicago and flew into Baltimore. Monday, a week and a half ago, I had a little medical procedure - an umbilical hernia repair. It was no biggie - just a one hour operation on an out patient basis. Yet, I have been laying low to recover. I can't say that I have suffered much pain from it. It was much more discomfort and I described myself as being a bit tender. I visited the doctor on Thursday and everything is on the mend. I wanted to have this done here in the States, because a danger of this type of problem is that the intestines could become strangulated and part of them could die. That is the last thing I wanted to happen when I am visiting some distant site where medical care could be a bit dicey. The surgeon and his staff were incredibly friendly and helpful. It was a very good experience. A good side benefit of this was that I have been staying in one site for a couple of weeks running. The friars at Ellicott City are always most hospitable to me. It feels like home. Also, for the first time in a few months, my sleeping patterns are beginning to return to normal. With all the jet lag from which I am always suffering, this is a real benefit. I finished some reading: Extra Virginity by Tom Mueller This is a very well researched and written book on the market for extra virgin olive oil. It speaks of the history of its use in diet, religion, medicine, etc. Yet, a great percentage of what is marketed as extra virgin (the highest quality of olive oil) is really doctored and of a much lesser quality. The author speaks of the value of extra virgin as an anti-oxidant, but how that value is lost when the oil is not extra virgin. Extra virgin has to be cold pressed, not treated with chemicals, carefully stored. There is even the scandal of some olive oil that is not even olive oil, but is some lesser form of oil (seeds, nuts, etc.). Begin Cutting by Gauray Raj Telhan Part of the training of physicians is the disection of a cadavar. The author speaks of his experience and how he tried to find out the identity of the person whom he disected. It was a difficult, nervous experience. Yet, he is trying to treat that person with the dignity that she deserved. It is really quite a good essay on the competing sensations in a situation of this type. Blasphemy by Douglas Preston I have read a number of books in which Douglas Preston collaborated with Lincoln Child. This was a book he wrote on his own. It is really quite good. It speaks of a scientific team that is running a super-collider in New Mexico in order to approximate conditions at the time of the big bang. The project is opposed by some Native Americans from the reservation on which the project is taking place, as well as by a teleevangelist and his minions because they accuse the team of trying to disprove the word of God (creation). The project runs into serious glitches on its own, and the turns and twists of the action take surprising and tragic directions. Hiding from Animals by Helen MacDonald This is a short essay on the practice of hiding in animal blinds either to observe their activity or to hunt for them. It deals with the almost voyeauristic tendency of those involved in this activity. Jerusalem by Simon Sebag Montefiore This is a long treatment of the history of the city of Jerusalem from its earliest days up to the time of the Six Day War. Montefiore comes from a famous English family which has sponsored a number of charitible activities in Jerusalem. The author tries not to take sides in the various disputes throughout history. Nevertheless, the author being Jewish, there was a slight tendency to pay more attention to that group than to others. What was a bit disappointing is the occasional inaccuracies in the accounts of what was going on (either from an archaeological point of view or from the point of view of the description of religious activities). 1968: the Year that Rocked the World by Mark Kurlansky 1968 was a year of riots and rebellions all throughout the world. Mark Kurlansky deals with many of the activities of that year (the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, the campus occupations in the US, the Chicago Democratic Convention, the French student rebellions, the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the troops of the Warsaw Pact, the student demonstrations in Poland, etc.). He does a creditable job of describing the origins and activities of the various movements, as well as their eventual successes or failures. Kurlansky has written a series of books on individual topics (salt, cod, paper, etc.). This book uses the talent to focus in on a singular topic to deal with a particular year instead of a particular topic. The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman Like all of Hillerman’s books, this one takes place on the Navaho reservation in the Southwest. It involves the tribal police, but its main focus is on a couple of unexplained murders and some unusual activities that have native Americans thinking that there is an outbreak of witchcraft. The blessing way is a ceremony to protect those involved from those evil forces. All of Hillerman’s books are well done and interesting. The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory This is the story of the mother of King Henry VII of England. She always pictured herself as a holy woman of God, but she comes across in the story as self-righteous. She places in the mouth of God whatever she wants to see, especially the furtherance of her own families rights. Above all, she wanted her son to be king, or one might say, she wanted herself to become the queen mother. I am not sure that Margaret Beaufort was really that selfish and self-righteous, but that is the way she comes across in this account. Liberty by Stephen Coonts This is a story about Islamic terrorists who buy four nuclear bombs from a Russian general and who intend to attack major targets in the US. A band of investigators appointed by the President manages to sort out where the bombs are, one of which is hidden in the Statue of Liberty. The story is action packed, and is actually quite good. Rising Sun by Michael Crichton This is the story of an investigation of the murder of a woman (prostitute) during rought sex in a skyscraper owned by a major Japanese company. The two investigators assigned are one man who is new on the intercultural unit and one who has long worked with the Japanese. There are twists upon twists in the story. I have read a number of more scientific or medical books by Crichton, and I didn’t feel that this was his best work. It got a bit too preachy concerning the relationship between Japanese businesses and the US government. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, April 30, 2018

Castro Valley, CA - Mt. St. Francis, IN - Ellicott City, MD - Buffalo, NY - Chicago, IL

May 30, 2018 Peace and Good, Sorry I have not written anything lately, but this month has been constant movement. I have been at the various provincial chapters of the four US provinces. I am now in Chicago for the last of the chapters. After this, I will be getting some time off in Ellicott City, MD before I start the circuit again for the various chapters. These weeks have gone quite well. Until this past Thursday, I have been with the Minister General. Thursday he flew back to Rome to get ready for a two week trip to Russia. Yesterday the Vicar General arrived and he will be in charge of the chapter this week. This week is the chapter for St. Bonaventure Province centered in Chicago. The weather is turning nice, after having been quite cool for the past couple of weeks. Flights have been good and on time. I like flying with Southwest. There is always a good spirit among the crew and even those flying. Security has not been bad at the airports. Ever since the TSA agent was killed in LA, I make it a point to go back and thank the TSA agents for keeping us safe. They really seem to appreciate it. I am sure that they face a lot of griping all day long. I have finished some books: Spy by Ted Bell This is the story of a plot by jihadists and South American terrorists to attack the United States. The hero is a British Lord who is incredibly rich, and he leads an attack on the evil forces. The problem in this book is that the author presents a quite racist view of the people who cross the Mexican-US border to seek refuge (either political or economic) in the US. The premise of the story is quite unrealistic and the story is not all that well put together. Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts its Legacy as the Largest Salve-Trading Dynasty in US History by Thomas DeWolf This is a very interesting project by an extended family that realizes that one of their ancestors was a slave trader. They travel to his home town in Rhode Island, then Ghana where the slaves were bought, and then Cuba where they often worked on the sugar plantations. Parts of the book sound like a travellogue, but then the author becomes reflective about different form of oppression which we still see in our society today. That part of the book is excellent and served as a great reflection for me. The History of Ancient Egypt by Prof. Bob Brier This is a rather long series on ancient Egypt from prehistoric times to the death of Cleopatra. The professor is quite entertaining and informative. I found his lectures excellent, but there are 48 of them so that this is quite a commitment. I would highly recommend this particular series from the Teaching Company. The Marlboro Men of Chernivtsi by Andrew Jones This is an essay on how people in Ukraine and Kaliningrad smuggle cigarettes into Europe to profit on the price differential and the lack of taxes. The author speaks of taking a bus across the Romanian border with women who have packed tons of illegal cigarettes all over their bodies. It is quite good. Attack of the Killer Beetles by Maddie Oatman This is a scientific essay on beetles that have infested pine forests all through the West of the United States. An ecologist argues that maybe it is good to let them have their way, even though they are killing many trees, for they are sorting out those trees which have the strongest genetic makeup. This is contrary to government tendency to thin forests which does not seem to be all that successful. The Winter Fortress by Neal Bascomb This is the story of a group of Norwegian freedom fighters during World War II who first of all sabatoge the factory where heavy water is being manufactured, and then later sink a ferry which has most of the available supply on its way to Germany. Heavy water was used in nuclear research, so its destruction put the atomic research in wartime Germany way behind schedule, which proved to be a God sent in this war. The Black Widow by Daniel Silva I very much like Silva’s books about the fight between the Mossad (Israeli secret service) and terrorist groups. This one is a battle against the forces of recent Muslim terrorists. I liked most of the book, but at a certain point the author almost makes the survival on one Israeli agent as more important than the death of hundreds of American civilians. I found I was quite offended by this tendency. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, April 9, 2018

Arroyo Grande, CA - Castro Valley, CA

April 9, 2018 Peace and Good, I have been in California since last Monday. This past week I presented a workshop to our seven novices for the States. I really enjoyed working with them. We had about three and a half hours of presentation a day from Tuesday until Friday. Yesterday, Sunday, I drove up from there to Castro Valley which is just outside of Oakland for the Provincial Chapter which begins this evening. It will go on through Thursday. On Friday, the Minister General, fr. Benedict Baek (the Asian Assistant General) and I will head back down to Arroyo Grande to visit the novices. Then off to Louisville for the next provincial chapter, this one of Our Lady of Consolation Province. I finished some reading: Day of Judgment by Jack Higgins Most of Higgins’ books are about spies, but this one has to do with the Berlin Wall and the attempt to smuggle refugees through the wall. It is rather well written, as are most of Higgins’ books. The action takes place in the early 1960’s with President Kennedy involved in the drama. He also includes some Catholic and Lutheran religious figures in quite a favorable light. Assassin by Ted Bell A large number of American diplomats are assassinated within a short period of time. A group of investigators tried to get to the bottom of the threat. They come up with an Arab leader who has sponsored a group of women assassins who are about to commit a major act of terror. The personifications in the book are a little weak, and I considered the narator (for I listened to this book) to be rather racist in his characterization. A Murder of Quality by John le Carre This is one of le Carre’s first books. It is about a murder in a university town in Great Britain. The wife of a tutor is killed, and George Smiley, the spy in many of le Carre’s books, is asked by a friend to investigate it a bit since the woman was a faithful contributor to a religious newspaper. Smiley discovers that the woman was not what she wanted others to think she was, and Smiley has to journey through a complicated set of details to get to the truth. The Copper Bracelet by Jeffrey Deaver et al This is an experiment in which each chapter of this thriller is written by a different famous author. There is no problem with continuity, but it is one of those books that probably tries to do a bit too much. It resembles one of those Russian dolls which are egg shaped, with one inside the other, inside the other, etc. The authors try to establish a complicated structure of a plot within a plot, etc. The heroes of the story are a bit too heroic. The whole thing comes across a bit unbelievable. The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a Pandemic Age by Nathan Wolfe This is the story of possible pandemics which could strike the world either through natural or through terrorist means. The author is a scientist himself who has worked to predict and react to various pandemics and other dangers. The author speaks about possible future dangers by showing how past dangers could be repeated. He gives a good amount of scientific knowledge in the course of his narratives. It is quite informative and well written. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Monte Argintario - Rome - Assisi - Rome -Arroyo Grande (CA)

April 4, 2018 Peace and Good, A Happy Easter to all. I finished the retreat in Monte Argintario and we travelled to Rome for the Triduum. Good Friday I had to take a quick trip up to Assisi for a couple of meeting with our English novices and their Novice Director. The three novices from the custody of Great Britain/Ireland are in Assisi for the year, and I went up to see how things were going. The Easter Vigil was well done this year. It lasted about two and a half hours, but everything was well organized. The Exultet was sung with guitar accompagnment, and it was really beautiful. We had a baptism and confirmation of an adult during the Mass. On Easter Monday I flew to California to give a workshop to our novices in Arroyo Grande. I flew from Rome to Munich, then to San Francisco, and then finally on to San Luis Obispo. When I got into Munich I saw that the connection to San Francisco was going to be three hours late. San Francisco is a large and somewhat complicated airport, and I thought I would never make the connection. The United Airline representative was on the jetway and gave me a coupon to get an expedited passport control. The security people let me take a fast track on security. Someone, both I and my luggage made the flight. When I got to the gate for the San Luis Obispo flight, it was already boarded, and the man checking the tickets even said that they never expected me to make the connection. I finished some reading: Poland by James Michener This is typical of Michener’s books – it is enormous. It gives stories about people all throughout the history of Poland, with the largest section dedicated to the Nazi period. It is very well written, and it gives a good insight into the Polish personality – a grandiose hopeful people who are generous in their service to their nation. I would always recommend Michener’s books as long as you have the time to read them. 1924: The Year that Made Hitler by Peter Ross Range This is an account of the events of 1923 and 1924 in the life of Adolph Hitler. In 1923 he organized the Beer Hall Puntch, and then in 1924 he was tried and imprisoned. He used his imprisonment to write his infamous memoir Mein Kampf. The Beer Hall Punch comes across as a comic opera rebellion, but Hitler used the subsequent trial as a stage to publicize his theories. It didn’t help that the judge and the whole judicial system of Bavaria were most sympathetic to the rightist movement. They treated Hitler with kid gloves, and released him long before he should have been (in clear contrast with how they treated Communists or Socialists). The book is good. The Cossacks: The History and Legacy of the Legendary Slavic Warriors by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the Cossacks, a group of ex-slaves and ex-serfs who escaped to the plains of southern Ukraine to produce a new people who were famous for the warlike disposition. They were often used by the Czars to put down rebellions with extreme violence. They were strong defenders of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Communists hated and did not trust them, and persecuted them throughout their regime. Stalin, for example, deported many of them to the Muslim republics during World War II. The account is well done. The Freemasons: the history of Freemasonry and the world’s most famous secret society by Charles River Editors I very much enjoy most of Charles River Editors, but this one is an exception. The scholarship in the book is very poor, and come across much more as a book of propaganda in favor of the Masons. The author takes all sort of founding legends proposed by the Masons and accepts them uncritically. I would not recommend this book at all. The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory This is the story of Margaret Pole, one of the last of the Plantaganets during the days of Henry VIII. She and her family opposed the reforms of Henry in regard to the Church, and she was executed late in her life for supposed rebellion. Philippa Gregory tries to portray a very favorable picture of Margaret Pole and I am not sure that she was quite as innocent as she would protray her. Nevertheless, Gregory does show the decline in the mental balance of the king and the murderous consequences of this. Midnight by Dean Koontz This is a horror story of a scientific genius who has created a type of nanotube that programs people to be a “higher race.” The problem lies both with the definition of what a higher race might be. To that scientist, it meant a lack of emotion as well as incredible healing power. Unfortunately, the nanotubes also give people the possibility of regressing to a lower form of humanity – becoming savage beasts that kill others. An FBI agent, a sister of a murder victim and a young girl who is running away from her now savage parents team up with a terribly wounded Vietnam veteran to fight this plague. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, March 26, 2018

Foligno - Rome - Oxford - Walsingham - Rome - Assisi - Monte Argintario

March 26, 2018 Peace and Good, After I finished preaching the retreat in Foligno (which I think went quite well), I went back to Rome to change clothes in my suitacse and then fly out to London and take the train up to Oxford. There was a snow storm (not too bad) when I arrived. I was going to our House of Studies to meet the Minister General and the students. We all went on pilgrimage to Walsingham on Monday and Tuesday. Walsingham in an old pilgrimage site (1061). All the English monarchs from that time to Henry VIII visited it on pilgrimage. It is a Marian site. Henry had it destroyed, but the Anglicans and Catholics built new shrines there in the last century. The Monseignor in charge of the Catholic site has asked the friars to come there to serve the pastoral needs of the pilgrims. There are a lot of them. There has been a parish or diocesan pilgrimage there every day since New Year's Day save one day. We were very pleased with our visit. There is a great future for the friars there. We had been there for two centuries before its destruction, and now we are back. We had a definitory meeting on Saturday that went most of the day. Then on Sunday we drove up to Assisi for a short meeting. I will have to head back there on Friday for part two of that meeting. Then from there we drove to Monte Argintario which is on a mountainside overlooking the Mediterranean. It is right down the coast from the place where the cruise ship sank a couple of years ago. We are here on retreat until Thursday when we head back to Rome The weather is still quite cold, unseasonable for this time of the year. Hopefully it will warm up a bit later this week. I finished some reading: Jewels of Paradise by Donna Leon Leon is one of my favorite authors. All of the other books that I have read so far were about Commissario Brunetti, an investigator from Venice, Italy. This one takes place in Venice as well, but there is no detective. There is a musicologist who has been hired to investigate two trunks left by a 16th century bishop who was also a composer. She must try to find out who the true heir of these trunks is (and who might inherit what had been called the jewels of paradise (a treasure that has to be defined in the course of the book). This book is excellent. SPQR by Mary Beard This is a masterful history of the Roman Empire from the founding of the city up to the date in the 200’s when all the people of the empire were declared to be Roman citizens. Mary Beard teaches in England and her presentation is good, entertaining and highly informative. She does not get caught up on dates and names, but gives a good overview of the various periods of Roman history. Some of her theories have been questioned, but I find what she says highly believable. The Foreign Spell by Pico Iyer This is a short essay about how the very foreignness of places where tourists visit is often the poison that destroys their distinctiveness. The resorts tend to be built up in these places, but then the resorts must cater to the whims of their clients who demand home town comforts while they are visiting exotic locales, destroying the very thing which they came to experience. Sarah Maslin Nir Perfect Nails, Poisoned Workers This is an essay that speaks about the dangers that are faced by women who work in nail polishing enterprises. These institutions and the chemicals they used are not regulated very much. There are studies which were sponsored by the companies that make those chemicals which declare that everything is safe, but anecdotal evidence of children stillborn or handicapped, miscarriages, infertility, etc is quite convincing. Emma Marris Return of the Wild This essay speaks about the return of wolves to California. They have been reintroduced to neighboring states, but there was some question of whether wolves ever existed in California at all. It seems as if the first anglos to arrive in the state were uniquely successful in wiping them out. As of now, there are no wolves actually dwelling there, but that will probably soon change since there is ample territory in which they tend to thrive and there has been evidence of wolves visiting the land for periods of time. Have a good Holy Week. Shalom fr. Jude