Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tagaytay, Philippines - Rome

March 13, 2019 Peace and Good, I am back in Rome for a three day definitory meeting. I flew into Rome from the Philippines on Sunday afternoon. It is a long, long journey. It is ten hours from Manila to Doha, a four hour layover, and then another six hours from there to Rome. There is a seven hour difference in time between Manila and Rome, so I have a bit of jet lag (but it is not as bad as it sometimes is). Tagaytay was mercifully temperate throughout the week I spent there. Philippines tends to be hot and humid, but Tagaytay is on the side of a mountain so it is cooler than Manila. Actually, the mountain is an active vulcano, but it is quiet right now (for the past century or so). I had a week of conferences with the novices and postulants. It went very, very well. It is great to see the enthusiasm of the young men when you begin to unpack the meaning of the Gospels. By the end of the week, you could see their minds reaching out to try to apply some of the lessons to other texts, which is great. In a week, you can present only so much, but if you can make them hungry to learn more, then you have done your job. I will be in Rome until Saturday, attending some more meetings and hopefully catching up on some projects. Then I am off to London for a few days. I finished some reading: Poets and Saints: Eternal Insight, extravagant love. Ordinary People by Jamie George I enjoyed this book. It is a bit of a travelogue of a family’s trip to Europe along with a pilgrimage testimony. The author is a Protestant minister, and he visits a number of sites that are connected with Protestantism, but he also visits Catholic sites. One of those sites was Assisi where he met one of our American friars who is now serving in Turkey, Andrew. He was very kind in his treatment. This is a light volume, but it has some very good spiritual insights. Hitler’s War by Harry Turtledove When I got this book, I thought it would be about World War II. In a way, it was, but with a couple of details slightly changed. It ask what would have happened if Franco had not become the leader of the Spanish fascists, if the Munich accord on Czechoslovakia had not taken place, etc. It gives the account from the point of view of the soldiers of the various countries. It was not half bad. To Kingdom Come: An Epic Saga of Survival in the War over Germany by Robert Mrazek These are personal stories of the participants in the war against Germany by the US 8th Air Force stationed in Great Britain. It gives a good account of who they were, of their background, and of their missions. A number of them were shot down, and it gives accounts of those who were able to find their way to freedom through the activities of the French underground. It is a really good story, giving the good and the bad of what happened. Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith by Henri Nouwen This short book was not directly written by Nouwen, but it is a collection of essays and talks that he had given over the years on the topic of spiritual direction. I found the book excellent, with insights that I know I will carry with me for a long time. Two ideas in particular struck me – the constant topic that God loves each one of us, a reality that does not need to be earned, and the idea that each of us, as Christians, is called to downward mobility. We are not called to success by the definition of the world, but to surrender and emptying out of oneself. French Indochina by Charles River Editors This is one of the short account from Charles River Editors, this one dealing with the limited topic of how the French came to Indochina, what they did while they were there, and how they were expelled from ii in the 1950’s. As always, the account was informative and worth reading. Vikings by Hourly History This is a short account of the history of the Vikings from the period in which they developed writing (and by definition passed from the prehistoric to the historic era). I found that the author gave a revisionist point of view in terms of the raids that the Vikings exacted upon Great Britain and Ireland (implying that they were revenge raids, but without a lot of outside proof). The end of the account is the development of the nation states of Scandinavia. There is also a good section on the age of exploration (Iceland, Greenland, and the coast of North America). Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Ellicott City, MD - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam - Tagaytay, Philippines

March 4, 2019 Peace and Good, I spent a few days in Ellicott City. On Monday morning, I was able to video some presentations for our development office on the Sacred Scriptures. Then in the evening I met with a Scripture group. It was a nice day, reminding me of when I was able to teach and do parish missions. Tuesday evening I flew out to Ho Chi Minh. I arrived on Thursday morning. I was there for the dedication of a new postulancy house. The building is three stories high with 24 rooms (with bathrooms). It was well, well done. The celebration was a good moment to mark the growth of the jurisdiction. Sunday afternoon I flew into Manila and drove up to our novitiate of Tagaytay. This is built on the side of an active vulcano which has not erupted for a century and a half. We have our international novitiate here (friars from the Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka). I will be here until Saturday giving a workshop on the Gospels. I have finished some reading: John Quincy Adams by Harlow Giles Unger This was one topic about which I had never read, and the book is very good. It presents the 6th president of the US as an academic and diplomat who was poorly suited for the presidency, but who nevertheless became a success by being a fly in the ointment when it came to the question of slavery. He was one of the lawyers who defended the blacks from Africa on the Amistead. He is not presented as an especially loveable character (much like his father), but the author is able to give a rounded picture of who he was and what he did. The Portrait of an Artist by Daniel Silva Gabriel Allon, the agent from the Mossad, is able to track down and eliminate a danger from the Islamic movement. This one was recruited by the CIA, but then turned against them to begin a war of terror. The twist in the story is that he is able to do all this with the help of the daughter of a rich Saudi whom he assassinated a number of years before, for she had turned against the extremists whom her father had been financing. As always with Daniel Silva’s books, the story is well told. The Great and Holy War: How World War I became a Religious Crusade by Philip Jenkins This book deals with the religious aspect of World War I. There was the tendency during the war to see it as a hold Crusade against the godless forces of the enemy. It also deals with the religious consequences of the war around the world such as the rise of Islamic movement (first a nationalist movement and later more than that), the persecution of religious minorities in the Middle East, the rise of Zionism, and the explosion of various Christian/Pentecostal movements throughout the continent of Africa. The General vs. the President by H.W. Brands This is the story of the interaction of General McArthur and President Truman. McArthur is a larger than life figure who had an enormous ego. He could easily have become a dictator if he had had the possibility, for he only lightly respected the democratic structures of our country. Truman had to find a way to fight the Korean War without starting World War III. He was not helped in this by the general, whom he eventually had to fire. This book gives a good account of the relationship between the two. Vikings by Hourly History This is a short presentation on the history of the Vikings. The author tries to be very sympathetic to them, rationalizing some of their outrages throughout history. The book starts in the late early Christian era, and goes up to the age of exploration in Iceland and Greenland, the conquests in Ireland, England and Normandy, and the rise of the modern nation states of Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Tulip Mania: The History and Legacy of the World’s First Speculative Bubble during the Dutch Golden Age by Charles River Editors The title more or less gives away what the book is all about. During the Golden Age of Holland, when its vessels were travelling throughout the world and it was making fabulous profits on trade, people began to buy tulip bulbs (which were a recent introduction from Turkey) for fabulous amounts of money. This was a classic speculative bubble, and it crashed suddenly, leading to the downfall of many fortunes. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude