Monday, November 25, 2019

Lusaka - Ndola - Garnerton - St. Joseph Mission - Rome

November 26, 2019 Peace and Good, I have finished my weeks in Zambia and returned to Rome. The primary reason for my stay in Zambia was to preach a retreat to the National Conference of Bishops. That went very well. I covered two Gospels: Matthew because that is what we will be using in this coming liturgical year, and John for some spiritual insights for the bishops. There were 11 in all. We were at Mt. Zion retreat house just outside of Lusaka. Zambia is having a terrible problem with electricity. They use mostly Hydro power, and they have been suffering from a drought. They are just now entering rainy season. At the retreat house, we had power from midnight to 4 AM. All throughout my travels in Zambia, the power was very restricted, and there was hardly any internet connection. After the retreat, I flew to Ndola. On Sunday I celebrated Mass in our parish in Kitwe, and then Monday through Wednesday I had conferences for the novices (6 of them). Then I went to St. Joseph's Mission for two days of conferences with the postulants. There are 19 of them, 4 in the second year and 15 of them in the first year (14 from Zambia and 1 from Angola). It was very hot, and the bugs were more than abundant except for St. Joseph Mission which is blessed with many swallows which love to eat the mosquitos. I am back in Rome to change my suitcase, for tomorrow I head out to the States for a week (mostly routine doctor's exams). I finished some reading: The Black List by Brad Thor The hero of the story is part of a secret group which works under contract with the government for the elimination of the country’s worst enemies. The problem is that his own group has been put on the black list, fated for elimination themselves. He has to uncover the reason for this condemnation and reverse its effects. The author is a bit to the right of what I am comfortable, but one only sees this in comments here and there. The Apology of Socrates by Plato This is the first time that I have read this particular work. It was part of a masterpieces of literature collection that I got on my Kindle. So often I have heard about this, but had never actually picked it up. I am very glad that I read this version of Socrates’ defense as reported by Plato. Instead of denying what he said and did or begging for mercy, Socrates simply shows that he was in the right and that the Athenians would be condemning themselves by condemning him. This is the work in which he speaks of the necessity to live an examined life. It is well worth reading. Alfred Nobel: the Life and Legacy of the Famous Scientist and the Nobel Prizes by Charles River Editors This is a quick biography of Alfred Nobel, the man who invented dynamite and who dedicated much of his fortune to the awarding of prizes for various services to humanity (peace, literature, economics, science, etc.). A Vast Conspiracy by Jeffrey Toobin This is a full report on the Clinton scandals and impeachement procedure. It is very well done, and Toobin does not try to take sides. It turns out that both sides have more than enough to apologize for having done. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about what happened, as long as they can stomach the sleeze. Ludwig van Beethoven: The Classic Romantic by The History Hour This is one of those short biographies. This one is a bit strange for it goes into quite great detail about the music, using a lot of terminology with which I was not familiar. It also deals a lot with who the eternal beloved, the love figure of Beethoven, might have been (without giving a definitive answer). It was not all that good. Forever Odd by Dean Koontz I very much like this series by Dean Koontz. Odd can see ghosts (who do not speak to him). He works to help them find peace and to go to the other side. This particular volume deals with a woman who is very strange and who is fascinated with ghosts. She tries to force Odd to conjure up some ghosts for her. There is some very good spirituality in each of the stories (even though that is not the stated goal of the series). Happy Thanksgiving fr. Jude

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Rome - Lusaka, Zambia

November 6, 2019 Peace and Good, I finished the week of definitory in Rome. The weather is starting to change with more cloudy conditions and a bit of rain. Our definitory finished on Friday morning and then on Sunday I flew out to Zambia. I am in Lusaka to give a retreat to the National Conference of Zambian Bishops. I begin that tomorrow morning. Then, when I finish, I will fly up to Ndola to give a workshop to our novices and saome talks to our postulants. When I finish that, I will be flying back to Rome. The days are quite hot here, around 90 degrees. The evenings cool off quite quickly, so sleeping is not all that much of a problem. There are blackouts each evening for the country depends on hydro-power, and the water levels are very low. This is the rainy season, but the rains have not really begun yet. I have finished some reading: The Roman Provinces of North Africa by Charles River Editors This is a short account of North Africa before the arrival of the Romans, its status under the Carthaginians, under the Romans, and then the loss of Roman power due to the Barbarian invasions in the 4th century AD. Where Serpents Lie by T. Jefferson Parker This is the story of a man on the squad that hunts child molesters and his squad. He is searching for someone who might be on his way to becoming a serial killer (at least due to his current conduct of kidnapping children and dressing them in other clothes). The twist in the story is when pictures are found which show the head of the squad in very compromising conditions with underage children. The action in the story is OK, but not a classic. Petra: the History of the Rose City by Charles River Editors This is a short presentation of the pre-history, history in ancient times, and modern discoveries in the beautiful city carved out of rock in the Southern region of Jordan. It served as an entrepot for travel and commerce between the Arabian peninsula and Mesopotamia. It was the home of the people known as the Nabateans. God is not Afraid of New Things by Pope Francis, ed Josh Beckley This is a collection of quick sayings of the Holy Father. As the editor states, some edify, some inspire, and some even challenge and possibly confuse. They are not exactly profound, but they are very helpful. America’s Secret War by George Friedman This books deals with the war against Al Qaida and also the American invasion of Iraq under George W Bush. The book is well written, and gives political insights on the Iraq war that I had never considered. It is an honest presentation of the various points of view, including those that we as Americans would rather not hear. I highly recommend this book to give further insight to the mentality of the people with whom we are dealing in the Middle East. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Kindle offers collections of famous masterpieces of literature at a very reduced price, and this is the first presentation in one of those volumes. It is Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. It is not a masterful presentation, but rather a book written to encourage young people to a spirit of entrepreneurialism and adventure (as evidenced in the life of Franklin who opened the first public library in Philadelphia, the first philosophical discussion society, the first fire brigade, the first militia, etc.). The Lost City of Heraklion by Charles River Editors This is a short presentation on one of the cities at the mouth of the Nile delta that served as a commercial center in the days before the creation of the city of Alexandria by Alexander the Great. In subsequent years, it was damaged by earthquakes and eventually subsided into the waters until it was discovered by underwater archaeologists. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude