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

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

San Diego - Rome - Foligno

March 14, 2018 Peace and Good, Last Thursday I flew back to Rome from San Diego via London. It was a long, long trip - 12 hours to London and another 2 1/2 hours from there to Rome. On Sunday I came by train to Foligno which is the next city over from Assisi. I am here to give a retreat to a group of friars from the new Central Italian province. We are in a retreat house just up the street from the city, which has about 450,000 inhabitants. It is a beautiful area in Umbria with olive groves and old stone houses just under us. The weather has been iffy. We ended up with a sleet storm yesterday which covered the ground with an inch of sleet. Today is mostly sunny and quite nice. The retreat is going well. I will be here until Saturday morning when I head down to Rome to change my clothes and head off to the airport for a plane to London to take another train up to Oxford where I will join the Minister General who has been there for a week or so now refreshing his English. I have finished some reading: A Man Called Intrepid by William Stevenson This is the story of a Canadian genius who developed the British secret service at the beginning of World War II. Much of the book details his often frustrated attempt to deal with the Americans. He got along quite well with Bill Donavan, the founder of the OSS, the predecesor of our CIA. He did not get along that well with J. Edgar Hoover who wanted the FBI to control all of the intelligence efforts both inside and outside of the country. Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army by Charles River Editor Joseph Kony is a strange figure (one of many) who developed a resistance movement in the north of Uganda. This area of the country is a bit of a disaster due to the way in which colonial masters divided up countries in Africa, often splitting one tribe between two different countries. The Acoli minority in the north was persecuted by various dictators, so they were rife for rebellion. Kony, however, killed more of his own people in the rebellion than outsiders, and he often kidnapped young children to become his soldiers. He is still being hunted by authories for all the atrocities that his soldiers have commiteed over the years. The Great Hurricane of 1938 by Cherie Burns This hurrican hit Long Island and New England before the naming of hurricanes and before the development of means of predicting their strength and movement. It hit in September and many, many people were killed in the flooding that resulted from the storm surge which was tremendous and unexpected. One of the people who was endangered during the storm was Katherine Hepburn. The disaster led to an upgrading of the system of prediction and the means with which the weather bureau communicated the warnings to the people in the path of future storms. Thunderstruck by Erik Larson This is the combination of the story of the invention of the wireless by Enrico Marconi and the capture of a man and his girlfriend who had run away to Canada after the murder of the man’s wife. (The girlfriend seems not to have been involved in the caper.) The combination is important for the man was captured through the use of Marconi’s new invention, and this episode gave great credibility to it and made it a success (something that was not previously guaranteed due to difficulties in the process that Marconi encountered and a number of industrial and scientific enemies that he made over the years.) 1861 by Adam Goodheart This book is about the coming of the Civil War. I have read many books about this era, but this is by far the best that I have seen. I contains details about which I had never heard before. It tells stories of individuals and how their lives and at times their deaths affected the country. The author gives a good and balanced analysis on the situation. I would highly, highly recommend this book to anyone interested in US history. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

San Diego

March 7, 2018 Peace and Good, I have been in San Diego this past ten days for a parish mission in Sacred Heart Parish in Coronado. The topic of the mission was a preparation for the events and spirituality of Holy Week. We had a great turnout, and many, many confessions. I was very pleased with how it went. It is a very active parish. I intend to write an article for the Messenger magazine in Padua on their outreach to married couples and families, to the divorced, to the hispanics, etc. They are taking very seriously the Pope's call to be a sign of mercy and welcome. On Friday I gave a workshop on the Passion Narratives at the Pastoral Center to priests and deacons. We had about 30 show up. That, too, went very well. These past few days I have tried to slow down a bit, but also finish one project (editing next year's Proclaimers' Workbook). This evening I fly back to Rome and next week I am giving a retreat to friars from the Central Italian Province. This province is made up of five earlier provinces that joined together this past year. The weather here was cool when I first arrived, but these past few days have been wonderful. I feel guilty watching the weather channel and what is happening on the East Coast. I finished some reading: Rebbe by Joseph Telushkin This is the biography of the seventh Rebbe who led the Lubavitcher Hassidic Jews. Many of his followers believe that he could be the Messiah (although they tended to give various descriptions of what that might be. Telushkin is the author of a book of Jewish humor that I had previously read and enjoyed. It is obvious that he is highly devoted to this great figure. The Rebbe (this is the title with which he was identified) led his community through the traumatic post-war period, living in New York. He reached out to all varieties of Jews to bring them back to a practice of their faith. He sent young missionaries all throughout the world so that there might be representatives of Judaism to be an anchor for those Jews who wised to practice their faith. Yet, he strongly opposed Judaism or compromise in the Middle East. While he obviously was a great figure, Telushkin works a bit to much to excuse his obvious shortfalls. The Pirates of Barbary by Adrian Tenniswood This is an overview of the struggle of the English to deal with the threat of the Barbary Muslim Pirates during the 17th century. Many of the pirates were actually Europeans who had been captured and turned coats to become Muslim themselves. They attacked not only ships in the Mediterranean, but also raided the coasts of France, Italy, Spain, and even England and Ireland. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis I have always wanted to read this Christian classic. It is filled with symbolism, and it deals with the choice one must make to embrace the joy and love of heaven. It contrasts that pure love with all the partial loves we so often experience upon this earth. I am not sure I like a lot of the symbolism that Lewis uses, but that has been true of many of the books I have read by this author. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King I very much like the writing style of King. I read his books not for the horror tales that he often presents, but for his choice of vocabulary and grammar. This volume is the first in a three part series. It deals with a mass murderer who drives a mercedes car into a crowd gathered to enter a jobs fair. There is a retired policeman who investigates this figure along with a young woman with various psycyological difficulties and a young African American boy who is a genius on the computer. I very much enjoyed this book. Edith Stein: Philosopher, Mystic, Martyr, Feminist by Alex Terego This is one of a series of short book on heroic or important Catholic figures. It gives a short biography of Edith Stein and a bit of her teaching. These short of books wet my apetite to read more about people like this. Marco Polo by John Man This is an account both of the travels of Marco Polo and his family and of the author’s trip in the footsteps of Marco Polo. The author gives a good account, and he tries to investigate the various controversies concerning the historicity of Marco Polo’s account. He speaks of the production of the account of his travels, as well as the consequences of his account upon subsequest exploration, including that of Christopher Columbus. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude