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


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