Sunday, December 27, 2020


December 28, 2020 Peace and Good, It has been a quiet holiday season here in Rome. We have been in lockdown for a few days around Christmas and again around New Year. There are very, very few tourists this year, and many restaurants and shops have been closed. Italy begins its process of vacination today, as does most of the rest of Europe. I am not sure when I will be able to get mine. If I do not qualify in January when I am in California, I will have to wait until March and fly back for that. The weather these days is cool and rainy. (It would happen on the only days we can get out and take a walk around town.) I will use the day to catch up on a number of small projects. A group of friars have volunteered to cook these days so that the staff could have a few days off. That is quite a project for there are around 30 of us. They have done a great job. I have finished some reading: Henry Clay: the Essential American by David Heidler This is a long and drawn out account of the life and career of Henry Clay, one of the great politicians at the beginning of the 19th century (along with Calhoun, Webster, etc.). Clay was a key figure in the development of the Whig Party, which eventually died due to internal squabbles, especially concerning the slavery question. The book is good, but its length would mean that it should be tackled only by someone who is very interested in this era. Abandon Ship! By Richard Newcomb This is the story of the sinking of the cruiser Indianapolis. The ship had just delivered the atomic bomb to Tinian, and it was sunk by a Japanese submarine in the Philippine Sea. For some unknown reason, help did not arrive for the survivors for over four days, with many dying due to injury, the sea, and sharks. The book speaks of both the American and Japanese stories, of the actual sinking, if the struggle for survival in the sea, and of the legal aftermath. The account is well done, with much eye witness material. The Revelation of St. John by Martin Kiddle This is a fairly good commentary on the Book of Revelation. With that book, one always has to be careful because so many authors try to interpret it as a guideline of when the end of the world will occur and how. This author does not do this. I do not agree with every single interpretation he uses throughout his study, but overall his material is good. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey This is one of those books that I have long wanted to read. It is about a man who gets himself committed to a mental health facility to be able to escape a conviction on rape. There he ends up in a clinic run by a nurse who portrays herself as serving the needs of the patients, but who is really trying to control everything according to her own whim. The two inevitably clash, with horrific results. It is also a story of the liberation of those in the clinic who were too afraid to confront the abusive power of the nurse. Art Matters by Neil Graiman and Chris Riddel This is a lecture on the importance of art and reading for the culture of our day. The presenter is himself an author, and he speaks of the process of inspiration and the need to produce art for art’s sake and not to make money. One Night Stands with American History by Richard Shenkman and Kurt Reiger This is a series of interesting and often very humorous episodes in American history. It is definitely a light read, but one needs those every so often. Chasing the Ripper by Patricia Cornwall This is a short, strange account of how Cornwall reacted to the reaction of her theory as to who Jack the Ripper actually was. She was attacked by a number of conspiracy theorists. It was so strange to hear an author become so defensive. You're all in my prayers in these tough days. Shalom fr. Jude PS On this feast of the Holy Innocents, think of saying a prayer for the innocent who are still suffering throughout the world.

Sunday, December 20, 2020


December 21, 2020 Peace and Good, I got through the ten days of meetings for our General Definitory. It is a good group of men. We talk through things until we reach a consensus. No one is afraid to give his opinion, and no one tries to shut the other down. But ten days is a long, long time to meet from morning to night. The weather is cool, with rain every few days. Rome is not in a total shut down, but it does have its limitations. The 24th to the 26th and again the days around New Year's Day will be shut downs. I just heard about the quarantine for flight to and from Great Britain. Fortunately, on the 11th of January, my trip is via Germany. We will have to see what happens with that. I have finished my series of six articles for our magazine in Kenya. I was going to do them on the Blessed Virgin Mary, but then the Holy Father declared this to be the year of St. Joseph, so it was back to the drawing board. I can use the BVM idea next year. These days I will be doing a bit of work on a couple of articles I have been asked to write. I should finish them by tomorrow evening. This evening I am going to do a zoom meeting with some ladies in the States on Bible Study (three Mondays in a row). I am glad to be able to share some of my insights in this manner. I have finished some reading: Museum Masterpieces: Metropolitan Museum of Art by Richard Brettell This is a video series that speaks about the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Most of the Teaching Company courses that I have participated in up to this point were audio, but this course needed to be video as well (for one had to see the paintings, statutes, and other art objects). The presenter is filled with vitality without being too much. I enjoyed this course, and will continue to view more of their video courses. Paradise Regained by John Milton Recently I read Paradise Lost, the first time that I had read it. This was a companion poem. I was surprised that it went up only to the temptations of Jesus in the desert. I am now listening to a Teaching Company Course on Milton so that I might understand more of what the two poems are all about. Hue 1968 by Mark Bowden Bowden is an excellent war author. This book deals with the critical battle between the troops of the US and the Republic of Vietnam and those of the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese. This battle took place during the Tet offensive in 1968, and although the communist forces were defeated and expelled from the city, their attack and their early victories caused discouragement among the Americans. It was at this time that Walter Cronkite visited Vietnam and made the editorial statement that he thought that the US should get involved in negotiations because we were not winning the war (no matter what propaganda the military was issuing). Medical Pediatrics by Roy Benaroch This is a teach company account of how a doctor treats his pediatric patients. Benaroch is an excellent presenter of this topic. He deals with the patients with great knowledge and experience, but also with great compassion, always treating his patients with tremendous respect. The La Brea Tar Pits by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the history of the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. The earliest use for the tar that came out of the pit was to provide construction material (especially for waterproofing various structures). It was only later that fossils were found in the pits of animals that had fallen in the pits and had become trapped there. Some of the animals were prehistoric and now extinct in America. In the Hurricane’s Eye by Nathanael Philbrick Philbrick is a very good author of American history. This book is on the battle of Yorktown. It deals especially with Washington and his struggle to hold his army and that of his ally together. He was frustrated by the fact that the French had promised to help him, but they had their own plans. Their greatest interest was how they might defeat the British in the Caribbean where the real profit lie. Philbrick gives a very good picture of the various parties and their motivations. The Battle of Gaugamela by Charles River Editors The is the account of the battle in which Alexander the Great definitively defeated the emperor of Persia. He was outnumbered, and the emperor of Persia had planned his battle well, but it was no good. The short book also speaks of the aftermath of the battle. Merry Christmas fr. Jude

Sunday, December 13, 2020


December 14, 2020 Well, we are already in the third week of Advent. I have been in Rome for these weeks, and last Wednesday we began our general definitory meeting (which in December is always longer than normal). We go through the end of this week. The weather is cool, but not really super cold. Last week there was quite a bit of rain, which is normal for this time of year. There are a lot of covid regulations given the situation in the country, which is not as bad as the States but nevertheless not all that good. Restaurants, for example, must close at 6 PM, which is very odd for in Italy most people don't eat their evening meal til around 8 PM. We have had some interesting news in these weeks. The custos of Assisi was named a cardinal, and a friar in Turkey was named the archbishop of Izmir in Turkey (Smyrna in the Bible). Both of these men are really fine people. I have been writing a series of six articles for one of our magazines in Kenya. I should finish the project today. Then I have two or three shorter projects to complete. I have finished some reading: City of Light, City of Poison by Holly Tucker This is an account of a series of poisoning murders that occurred during the reign of King Louis XIV. It is possible that his own concubines were involved in some of the plots, including even the possibility of a plot against the king himself. This book also outlines the beginning of an investigative police force in the City of Light. It is quite interesting, but at times seems to devolve to scandal mongering (although given the morality of the time, this does not necessarily mean that what it presents is inaccurate). Midnight at Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham This is a thorough account of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. It deals with the Communist system and how the inefficiencies of that centrally run economic system led to design errors which largely caused the disaster. It deals with the individuals who set off the disaster through their mistakes or their own inefficiencies. It deals with the aftermath of the disaster in terms of the effect on the public and the government response. The book offers a number of personal portraits which makes its reading quite satisfying. The author does not spare the horror of it all, but presents everything calmly and fairly. Jomiini by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of a Swiss expert on warfare who first fought with the forces of Napoleon and then allowed his services to be bought by the court of the Czar in Russia. He was a contemporary of Clausewitz and while some of their theories correspond, others seem to have purposely been proposed in contrast to those of the other. Pandora’s Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong by Paul Offit This is a study of some of the proposals made by scientists that have proved to be most damaging. One of the most obvious was the tendency to perform lobotomies on people in the hope to make them more manageable. The author attacks Rachel Carson’s presentation of the dangers of DDT, saying that its banning produced many, many more deaths through Malaria. Interestingly, he says that the proposal that vaping is dangerous is inaccurate, which theory itself has proved to be inaccurate in these past couple of years. The author is not really anti-science, but he is anti-sensationalism. His bottom line theory is that we have to follow the data. Imperial Twilight: the Opium War and the End of China’s Last Golden Age by Stephen Platt This is a very good account of China in the period leading up to and during the two Opium Wars, wars that Britain fought for free trade (but also largely to permit British traders to import opium into China). What I truly appreciated about the book was that it did not get bogged down on war details, but rather painted an extensive picture of the society both of China and of the British traders. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in the era. Before Darkness by Michael Dean This is the story of how the industrialist Walther Rathenau succeeded in business, then as an organizer of material that Germany needed during the First World War, and finally in government after that war as a minister in the Weimar Republic. He was often attacked for the fact that he was a Jew and he was gay. He was eventually assassinated by the far right which saw his actions as a betrayal of Germany at the end of the war (the famous stab in the back theory). May the rest of your Advent be peaceful. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, December 4, 2020


December 4, 2020 Peace and Good, I finished my ten day quarantine on Wednesday evening, so I am free again. I used the quarantine time to edit my Lectors' Handbook for 2022, so I am ahead quite a bit. The weather here in Rome is wintery. That means that it rains quite a bit, but usually only part of the day. It is cool, but not cold. Everyone on the streets is wearing a mask. All of the progress that Italy had made after the first terrible months has largely been lost. It is strange because restaurants are to close at 6 PM, and most Italians would not think of eating supper before 8 PM or so. This means that the city has become very quiet in the evening. We are still celebrating the novena to the Immaculate Conception in our Basilica, although with social distance and masks, etc. We are the offical novena for that feast in Rome (for our theologians did a lot to foster this devotion). Every other seat on the pew is empty, but with that restriction, those seats that were open were all filled. The music is always beautiful. Friar Gennaro is a great choir director, and friar Mark Folger from California plays the flute beautifully. Next week we will begin 10 days of definitory. The definitory before Christmas has always been a bit of a tough push since we receive many end of the year reports. Still, Christmas is coming. I finished some reading: The Apostle Paul by Stanley Porter This is an interesting overview of the letters that have been attributed to Paul The author takes the view that he actually wrote 13 of the 14 once attributed to him (not Hebrews). This is a position not accepted by most scholars today, but he nevertheless gives good information concerning the letters. For me it is always good to read a position which I have not held to firm up what I believe about something lest I begin to mouth something simply it is because I have learned it that way. Alcohol and Human Health by OpenLearn This is a short overview of the effect that alcohol has on the human body, especially in terms of its overuse. It speaks about the symptoms of chronic abuse (to the liver, the brain, to unborn children, etc.). It gives a good overview of the problem and its treatment. Hitler’s Spy Chief: the Wilhelm Canaris Mystery by Richard Bassett This is both a biography of Canaris and an account of his role as the head of military intelligence for the Nazi regime during the Second World War. The book strongly insinuates that Canaris was playing a double game. While he was fervently anti-Communist and pro-German, he was nevertheless disgusted with the abuses of the Nazi regime. The book implies that he purposely leaked information to the British in some instances, and in others allowed things which he had learned to be shunted aside so that those discoveries could not be acted upon. He was executed toward the end of the war for his suspected knowledge and collaboration with the Staufenburg attempt on Hitler’s life. Alexander the Great by Philip Freeman This is a very well done biography of Alexander the Great. It is a book which I listened to, and I found it informative and even entertaining. I would recommend it to anyone who wanted to know more about the topic. The Poet by Michael Connelly This is a book about a newspaper journalist who tries to discover the murderer of his twin brother who was a policeman. The murders seem to be tied up with a series of murders committed by a pedophile. The policemen who are killed are all found with quotes from Edgar Allen Poe which are written as if they were suicide notes, but none of them actually committed suicide. The book is extremely well done. Domina, the Women who Made Imperial Rome by Guy de la Bedoyere This is a study of some of the major female players during the days of the Caesars, including Livia, the wife of Augustus, Julia his daughter, Julia his granddaughter, Agrippina, the daughter of Agrippa, etc. They are shown to have exercised considerable power behind the scenes, especially acting through their husbands, sons, etc. The book explores the Roman attitude toward women, toward purity and chastity, etc. – especially in its tendency to have a very clear double standard. The Washington Monument by Charles River Editors This is the story of the slow and painfully interrupted process of the building a national monument to the founder of the nation. It is surprising how many years it took before the government took responsibility for its funding and construction. Keep safe, fr. Jude

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Ellicott City - Rome

November 26, 2020 Happy Thanksgiving I finished my doctoring and dentisting in the second week of my stay at Ellicott City. Unfortunately, the crown that was to be attached was not ready yet, so I will have to return for that at a later date. They put my temporary crown in with a permanent glue. The trip back to Rome was uneventful, but strange. My flight on British Air had been transferred from BWI to Dulles airport, so I had to take a shuttle out there. The BA flight from London to Rome was cancelled, so I had to fly AlItalia to get in. Dulles was all but empty. Heathrow in London had quite a few folk, but not as many as normal. Getting into Rome was no real problem, as long as I agreed to quarantine for two weeks (which we do in our friary anyway). I got back Sunday evening, and I am still feeling fine. I do take my temperature twice as day as recommended. The friars bring my meals to my door. I am spending the time editing the Lectors' Handbook that I do each year (for 2021-2022). The weather here is cool, but nice. I am able to take daily walks on the terrazza outside of my room, so I do not feel totally isolated. The whole house is under quarantine for before I returned, one of the friars came down with covid. He is doing better, but it was touchy for he is a brittle diabetic. At this point, I will be in Rome for some time. I do not yet know when my next trip will be. We have a definitory the week before Christmas. I finished some reading: The Tanks of the World Wars by Charles River Editors This is a study of the birth and development of tanks and tank warfare in the First World War, the interwar period, and especially during the Second World War. Baron Johann de Kalb by Charles River Editors This is a biography of one of the Europeans who travelled to the US during the revolutionary war to help the patriots. Unfortunately, de Kalb was not at first welcomed, and even when he was, he was exceedingly unlucky in terms of those with whom he served. He died in a poorly run battle in the Carolinas when Gates, the commanding general, first bungled the attack and then ran away from the battle in a cowardly way. Xerses I by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of the Persian emperor who invaded Greece and encountered the Spartans at Thermopylae and then whose navy was defeated at Salamis. Although he face defeat in the West, he was highly successful in holding and extending the borders of his empire in the East. Paradise Lost by John Milton I had always heard of this epic poem, and it was time to read it. The poem is very, very long, and the style is that of the 17th century when it was written. There are thousands of references to Greek myths and other esoteric topics as Milton describes the creation of humanity and its fall into sin. The poem was well worth reading, but I will listen to a Teaching Company course on Milton before I go into the next of his poems, Paradise Regained. The Battle of Nicopolis This is a tragic battle between the western forces and the Muslims in Bulgaria. The Western forces were divided and led by a group of young, arrogant nobles who would not listen to the advice of others who had already fought against the Muslims in previous battles. The result was a resounding defeat of the crusaders and mutual recriminations among the combatants as to who was at fault. The 13th Juror by John Lescroat The 13th juror is the judge who can either accept to set aside a death penalty verdict at a murder trial. This is the story of a woman accused of killing her husband and child. She had every reason to kill her husband considering she came from a family where there was terrible spousal abuse, and she was suffering from it herself. Yet, she firmly refuses to plead guilty and seek mercy because she was abused. The action is well presented, and this is a novel worth reading. The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers by Thomas Fleming Fleming presents an inside look at the family lives and even some of the scandals of the founding fathers of the country. It is not a tell all book to denigrate the founding fathers, but rather looks at them with a realistic caution to show that while they were not perfect, they often tried their best. Washington comes across looking fairly good, while Benjamin Franklin falls quite short of what he could have been both as a husband and a father.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Chicago - Ellicott City

November 11, 2020 Peace and good, I am sorry that I have not written for a while, but I forgot to check in. These past two weeks I was in Chicago for a series of meetings. The first week was a zoom meeting with the General Definitory. This was a bit difficult because we had participants from Korea to Italy to the US. I was getting up to turn on the computer at 4 am, while the friar in Korea was going until 3 am his time. Zoom meetings are good, but they are exhausting. We found that you can really only go for about 2 hours before you have to take a break. Then, the second week, we had a zoom meeting with the major superiors of our federation (Australia, US, Canada and Great Britian/Ireland). The meeting went very well. One of the things that we are doing in launching an office to handle requests for assistance in our missions. Up to now, we have been able to get money for social projects, but we also need formation houses, education costs, etc. The friar in charge, fr. Valerio Folli, is a gem. He is from northern Italy, and has worked with a similar project in his own province for years. I was also able to film a series of blogs for our website on the concept of peacce in the Bible. Eacch is only a couple of minutes long, and I was able to finish about 35. I am now in Ellicott City. The past couple of days I have had a couple of small medical procedures - preparation for a dental crown (which fell off due to a Korean gummy bear) and a bit of skin cancer removed (Basil cell). I will head back to Rome a week from Saturday. That, of course, is if they still let people enter Italy. It seems that the rules change every five minutes. I have not had a flight in the past eight months that was not rescheduled or cancelled. I finished some reading: Earth’s Changing Climate by Richard Wolfson This is a series of lectures from the Teaching Company that looks at the phenomenon of global warming from a very scientific background (without getting into politics as much as possible). Wolfson gives the data, explains how the data does not produce an exact picture but rather does foreshadow certain strong possibilities, and outlines various projections as to what awaits the world if action is taken to lower Carbon Dioxide emissions (and other greenhouse gases) and what awaits if we do not. Albert Einstein by Walter Isaacson This is the second book by Isaacson that I have read. The first was a biography of Leonardo da Vinci. Both books were excellent. In this book he deals with very esoteric scientific concepts, but he does so in a way that shows both he understands what they mean and in a way that helps the reader to understand. Einstein comes across as a complex figure who was a pacifist until the Nazi horror forced him to recognize the need to resist, a pacifist who nevertheless urged President Roosevelt to investigate nuclear fission as a weapon, etc. His family life was not always ideal, especially with his first wife. Yet, he does come across as a dreamy but also fundamentally humble character. Books that Matter: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire written by Edward Gibbons by Leo Damrosch This is one of the Teaching Company Courses. The professor gives a good overview of the various topics covered by Edward Gibbons in his masterpiece of the late 18th century, the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Damrosch readily evidences the prejudices of Gibbons, but also complements him highly on his incredible research and arrangement of scattered information to give a logical timeline and a learned evaluation of causes and effects in the process. Mary Barton by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell This is a book in a collection of significant books to read which is available on Kindle. I would have never read it, but it was the next in line. The author is writing about the difficulties of being poor in the midst of the industrial revolution in the manufacturing cities of England during the 19th century. The poor struggle to survive, while the captains of industry try to protect their privilege even at the cost of oppressing the poor. The book gives a sense of the religious faith of the people, heavily influenced by the Methodist movement. The action is a bit melodramatic, the style of the day in which the book was written. It was good, though, to go through a book of this period. Conquering Gotham: A Gilded Age Epic by Jill Jonnes This is the story of how the Pennsylvania Railroad managed to dig tunnels under the various waterways surrounding New York and build Penn Station at the turn of the 20th century. They were up against numerous physical problems, as well as political problems (for the Tammany was still very strong in New York City at this time). The account gives a good picture of those involved in the process, especially of the always honest and trustworthy president of the Penn Railroad, Alexander Cassatt, the brother of the famous artist Mary Cassatt. King George VI by Hourly History This is a short, well written biography of King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth. There is nothing shocking in the account. The low point in the abdication of his brother in order to marry the woman he loved. The high point is how George, who was never the most outstanding figure, stepped up to the bat to help lead Great Britain during World War II. A Tour of the Cell by OpenLearn This is a short treatment of the various elements and mechanisms of the cell (whether plant or animal). The course tends to be highly technical, so this course should not be considered for the casual reader. It would serve most for someone who was studying for an exam on cytology in medical school. Seeds of Hope by Jane Goodall The author of this book is the famous Jane Goodall who lived with chimps in Eastern Africa for so many years and produced important studies on their behavior. This book deals with the importance of plants (in a number of different dimensions). It speaks of the value of surrounding oneself with plants, of deforestation, of attempts at reforestation, of genetically modified plants, of industrial farming, etc. It is quite good, but at times a bit strident and pedantic. Keep Safe. fr. Jude

Friday, October 23, 2020


October 23, 2020 Peace and Good, I am still in London. I did my two weeks of quarantine, and now I am allowed to leave the house. I take my daily walk along the shore of the Thames (on the south side of the river, not all that far from the ferris wheel called the Eye. It is strange, however, with many people wearing masks and everyone trying to avoid close contact. Coved has gotten worse in the UK in these days, especially in the western cities of Liverpool and Manchester. They are classified at the 3rd level of isolation, while London is only at the 2nd level. The weather has been horrible with it raining almost every day. I like to walk in this city, but between covid and the weather, I have not done too much outside. I have had a great opportunity to do some writing work. I have finished editing my meditation book on Franciscan Spirituality, and today I will finish the first draft on my new children's Bible. I leave tomorrow for Chicago where I will be for a couple of weeks. I have finished some reading: Pompei by Robert Harris This is one of many books by Robert Harris that I have read. It deals with the explosion of Mount Vesuvius toward the end of the first century AD. The hero of the story is an acquarius, a man responsible for the care and maintenance of the aqueduct that brings water into this part of Italy. The action is very well written, and the characters are memorable, as in all of Harris’ books. Death at Beggar’s Opera by Deryn Lake This is one of a series of books written about an apothecary working in London named John Rawlings during the 18th century. He works part time as a detective for a magistrate famous for his crime solving ability nicknamed the Blind Beak. The action takes place in a privileged society and is filled with attitudes which are better read within their historic context. The morality of that particular era, at least among the privileged class, seems loose at best. Yet, the book comes together well and was a pleasant read. The Battle of Berlin by Hourly History This is a short outline of the warfare that led up to the fall of Berlin during World War II and some of the episodes during the fall itself. It does not give anything new, but it is a good review of the topic. Winter Moon by Dean Koontz This is a science fiction story of how a family who flees the violence and insanity in Los Angeles (especially since the father is an injured police officer who lost two of his partners in the past couple of years). They end up in Montana where they come into contact with a horrible extra-terrestrial monster which threatens humanity. The story is well told. The Young Turks by Charles River Editors This is a short history of the movement that moved the Ottoman empire from being an inward looking, dying entity to the modern state of Turkey. It did not occur easily, and there were many twists and turns along the way. It was finally Ataturk who was able to suppress the Caliphate and to create a single culture (by suppressing many of the minorities) in today’s Turkey. Augustus by John Williams This is one of the books which I purchased from Chirp Books. It is a discount outfit which allows one to listen to books (but not download them). This biography is written in the form of a series of letters and memorials on the various topics. A lot of attention is given to Augustus’ relationship with his daughter Julia whom he had exiled because of her adulterous conduct. The book proposes that this was an attempt to save her life from Augustus’ successor (and her husband) who would have had her killed. The book is well done. Must History Repeat Itself: the Great Conflicts of this Century by Joseph Nye This series from the Teaching Company studies the great conflicts of the 20th century and gives insights into how to respond to the situation in which we find ourselves today. It is one of the older series for it deals with the fall of Communism but does not deal with the rise of militant Islam and terrorism throughout the world. Keep safe. fr. Jude

Tuesday, October 13, 2020


October 13, 2020 Peace and Good, I have begun my second week of quarantine in London. I am staying at our friary not to far away from Waterloo Station. Here is Great Britain, the quarantine means that you cannot leave your house. For the first six days, that meant to stay mostly in my room and avoid the other friars when I went down to eat. Fortunately, there is a nice roof on which I can do my daily walk. Corona has spiked again here, but especially in the north of the country. The Prime Minister has established a three tier system according to how much danger there is, and each tier has a different level of restrictions. I have been editing my Franciscan meditation book. 2/3's of it is done, and I am awaiting the proofs of the last third in the next couple of weeks. The weather here has been atrocious. It has been raining almost every day. I will finish my quarantine this coming Saturday, and then I have a series of meetings. I will be leaving London for Chicago on the 24th. I have finished some reading: Archaeology: An Introduction to the World’s Greatest Sites by Eric Cline This is an excellent and entertaining series of courses from the Teaching Company. It deals with archaeological techniques and finds throughout the East and West (centering on the ancient civilizations of the Mid-East). The professor who gave this presentation has a witty and funny style that makes series a joy to hear. Mysterious Polynesia: the Myths, Legends and Mysteries of the Polynesians by Charles River Editors This is a short book about the various myths among the Polynesian people. The book spends quite a bit of time talking about the stone monuments found at Easter Island – why they were constructed, how, etc. While the myths of the Polynesians are often similar throughout the range of their settlement, one nevertheless finds quite a bit of individual content in each band of islands upon which they are found. Pearl Harbor: Hinge of War by Richard Freeman This is a short overview of what led up to and what happened on December 7, 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor. The book is not intended to be all inclusive, but does give a good synopsis of the situation. Postwar by Tony Judt This is an extensive treatment of Europe in the aftermath of World War II up to the present days. I deals with the period of reconstruction in the immediate aftermath of the war, and then with the various movements that swept across Europe (both West and East), including labor agitation, industrialization, the failure of the soviet system, terrorism, etc.). The book is well written, and a source of an enormous amount of information, but its length requires a real commitment. The Battle of Tarawa by Hourly History This invasion of the small Pacific island during the early days of World War II by the marines was one of the bloodiest battles fought during the war. The island was small, but the Japanese were well prepared, and the US forces had not yet learned many important lessons about amphibious warfare that they were to learn and incorporate into the plans after this battle. Emperor Hirohito by Hourly History This is a short biography of Emperor Hirohito of Japan, especially in the years leading up to his reign and his role during World War II. The book, in fact, all but ignores what he did following the war, even though he continued to reign for another thirty years. It asks the question of whether he should have been indicted as a war criminal, given his acquiescence to many of the things his army and navy did during the war. Two Graves by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child This is another of the Preston and Child books that I have read. I like the series very much. This involves FBI investigator Pendergast and the death of this wife by the hands of a group of renascent Nazi’s who have set up a secret human breeding program in Brazil. Some of the action is a bit more fantastic than the other volumes in the series, and I could say that this is not my favorite of their books, but even so it is good enough to recommend. Have a safe week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, October 5, 2020

Chicago - London

October 5, 2020 Peace and Good, This past week I have participated in a provincial assembly in Chicago for the St.Bonaventure Province. The meeting went well. Originally it was to be a provincial chapter, but they could not guarantee a quorum because this province is in charge of the delegation in Australia and the borders there are closed. There was a very fraternal discussion, and a couple of decisions were made which were painful but necessary. The flight to London was good, although again there were not more than 1/6th of the seats filled. The border control was very easy. I had to fill out a long form on the internet before I flew, but at the passport control it did not take more than 30 seconds. I will be quaranteened for the next two weeks in our friary near Waterloo Station. The friars here have already shown great hospitality. I am trying to stay in my room most of the time because a couple of the friars here are hospital chaplains. I would hate to give them the virus. I have to stay in my room for the first week, and in the house for the week after that. The weather here is pretty much what one would expect: cloudy and rainy. I finished the following reading: All that Remains: A Renowned Forensic Scientist on Death, Mortality, and Solving Crimes by Sue Black This is the story of the life and work of a forensic pathologist. She speaks of the necessity of autopsies, both for the person involved and for the teaching of medical students. She deals with her work in crime cases, as well as in cases of crimes against humanity such as the massacres in Kosovo. She does not speak much about the afterlife, for she seems to be a skeptic in that, but she does speak about the need to respect the dignity of life and even of the dead. Deep Down by Lee Child This is a short Jack Reacher novella. He is presented as a type of macho, secret agent who is sent to investigate the leaking of secret munitions data to industrial spies during a Congressional hearing. It turns out that the mole is actually a secret Soviet agent who was gathering information on gun specifications to intuit Pentagon warfare plans. The Good Pope: The Making of a Saint and the Remaking of the Church – The Story of John XXIII and Vatican II by Greg Tobin This is a short, but finely written biography of Pope John XXIII, especially centering on his papacy. We see John as a traditionalist in many ways, but also someone who was so pastoral and so open to the movements of the Spirit that he was able to call the Second Vatican Council and steer it in the right direction. Firestorm by Marshall De Bruhl This is an overview of the air warfare fought by Britain and American against Germany, concentrating especially in the firebombing of the beautiful city of Dresden toward the end of the war. There has been a lot of judgment cast upon that decision, but De Bruhl tries to explain how the reasons for doing the bombing were actually more complicated than often notices (e.g. the specific request by the Soviets to destroy marshalling yards for railroads to prevent reinforcement of Nazi troops at the front, and the fact that Dresden was one of the major marshalling yards). Yet, the terror of the event leaves one breathless. King Henry VII by Hourly History This is a short biography of the founder of the Tudor dynasty. He was an unlikely heir to the throne, but he managed to invade England and defeat Richard III. There is a huge debate over whether Richard III was really as bad as he is sometimes portrayed to be, for most of what was written about him was written by authors working in the Tudor era, so naturally their portrait of him come out negative. Henry is portrayed as a good ruler and a tightwad (whose accumulated treasures were then squandered by his spendthrift son, Henry VIII). The Dissolution of Czechoslovakia by Charles River Editors This short book deals with the creation of the state of Czechoslovakia, its difficulties with the Nazis, its time under the soviet system, and its regaining of freedom which led to the dissolution of the state into the Czech republic and Slovakia. King Darius the Great by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of the great emperor of Persia who managed to extend the boundaries of the empire to its widest extent. His one failure was his invasion of Greece when his troops were turned back at the Battle of Marathon. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, September 25, 2020


September 25, 2020 Peace and Good, I arrived in Chicago this past Sunday. I flew from Rome to London, and then from London to Chicago. I was a bit worried about the connection in London, but I should not have been concerned. So few people are travelling that there was no problem making my way through the airport. The flight from London to Chicago could not have been more than 1/10th full. I fully understand why the airlines are asking for help. The flight from Rome to London was the only BA flight that day. Usually there are four or five flights a day. The weather here is wonderful. It is warm, but not super hot. One of the friars here is working on a series of podcasts for our vocation office. I did a who bunch of podcasts on peace (especially from the Bible) for him. What is good is that it can be difficult to get friars to do things on time, so he will not have a stockpile of possible podcasts (only between 2 and 3 minutes each) to use when needed. I always enjoy doing projects like that. Tomorrow morning I will write an article for one of the province's newsletters. I have come here for a province assembly which will be held this coming week. Then on Friday I will fly over to London for some meetings. I have finished some reading: Roosevelt by Edwin Grosvenor This is a series of essays by scholars and others on FDR, especially speaking about his role as president and commander in chief during the dual crisis of the Great Depression and World War II. The essays vary in value depending on the particular topic and the talent of the individual author. Nevertheless, some of the topics treated are valuable. Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin This is an extensive collection of short essays on topics of Jewish history and culture prepared by Rabbi Talushkin (this being the second book by this author which I have read). The information was collected to serve as a type of adult education for Jewish people who did not know enough about their faith. The book contains a ton of good information, and is well presented and documented. Charlie Wilson’s War by George Crile This is the story of how a representative from a rural district in Texas who was addicted to womanizing and drink and who nevertheless plays a crucial role in the financing of the Mujahidin rebellion in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion. The author is very honest in his appraisal of both Charlie Wilson and the CIA during this time. The story is very, very good, and it leaves one wondering at the eventual unintended consequences of actions taken (e.g. the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of Islamic terrorism, etc.). Colossus by Michael Hitzik This is the story of the construction of the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. It was begun at the beginning of the Great Depression. The project was so great that the only ones who could build it was a consortium of six construction companies. While the book praises the organizational ability of those who built the dam, it also deals extensively in the poor treatment of the workers, including the dangerous conditions in which the workers were forced to do their work. The Return of George Washington: Uniting the States 1983-1789 by Edward Larson This book deals with the period after the resignation of Washington as General in Chief of the US forces and his eventual assumption of the presidency of the republic after the ratification of the Constitution. It deals especially with Washington’s role in the production and acceptance of the constitution, which was far from a given considering the opposition of many to a more centralized form of government. Ndrangheta by Charles River Editors This is an outline of the formation and history of the Mafia which grew up in the southern Italian region of Calabria. It is one of the less known groups, and thus it was able to grow in importance and wealth in an almost stealth manner. Al Capone by Hourly History This short book gives an account of the life and career of the famous Chicago mobster. He made his money especially on illegal alcohol during the prohibition, but that did not stop him from getting into all sorts of other illegal activities. He was imprisoned for income tax evasion, and eventually ended up in Alcatraz. He was released in poor health because of his advanced case of syphilis, and died all but lost in dementia. Have a good week. Stay safe. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, September 18, 2020


September 18, 2020 The Feast of St. Joseph of Cupertino Peace and Good, We have been in the north of Italy, in a valley in the Dolomites, all this week. We have tried to balance work (our definitories) with time in the country. This area is incredibly beautiful. We are surrounded by medium size mountains. The weather here has been magnificent, compared to Rome where we hear there is a heat wave. Tomorrow we head back to Rome, and then on Sunday I head out to Chicago for a province assembly. I have finished some reading: Patrick Henry by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of the famous author of the saying, “Give me liberty or give me death,” a line that he probably stole from another author. It follows his career, coming out of nowhere to become a patriot of the first order. It also deals shortly with his opposition to the constitution of our country, for he felt that it produced a government that was too centralized and too powerful. Interestingly enough, he fought against the proposal of a couple of states that would have allowed them to negate federal laws whenever individual states did not agree with them. The Han Dynasty by Charles River Editors This is one of the short books on a particular topic by Charles River. Unfortunately, this one is packed with so much detail about the intrigues of various emperors and their courts that is all but unintelligible except for an expert on the topic. Carl von Clausewitz by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of the famous author of a course book on how to wage warfare (compiled by Carl and then edited and published by his faithful wife). While he was never in charge of great numbers of troops, he studied the various aspects of fighting and produced a work that is still considered a classic on the topic. The Tree of Life by Roland Murphy This is a very good overview of the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament. It is a book that I intend to read over and over again every couple of years, for it was packed with good information about the books themselves and also other wisdom literature from ancient Mideastern cultures. Soapy Smith by Charles River Editors This is a short account of a flim flam man in the West. His career was mainly in the mining towns of the West, such as Denver and Skagway, Alaska where he met his end. He set up an entire gang which controlled the towns in which he dwelt. Wilberforce by OpenLearn This is a short account of the career of Wilberforce, the great hero of the battle against the slave trade in Great Britain. The course centers on his initiative to purify the morals of the country. He wrote a compendium of the spiritual life from a Methodist point of view in order to address the lack of religiosity that he found in society. The Fall of Saigon by Charles River Editors This is an account of the final battle of the Vietnam between the forces of the North and those of the dying republic in the South. It goes into great detail, more than I would have wished to read. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Rome - Cortina

September 13, 2020 Peace and Good, I have finally finished my third isolation (of two weeks each). At least two of these were in my own room, so it was actually quite comfortable. The friars were great in bringing me whatever I needed. I was able to get some good work done. I finished the daily reflections until the end of October. I also was able to write 11 articles for the Messenger magazine printed in Padua in English (and distributed throughout the world). I am set with them up to the end of 2022. Yesterday, the definitory travelled up to Cortina, a town in north Italy, for a bit of time among the mountains (the Dolomites). We will be working here, but also take a couple of days off to enjoy the surroundings. We return to Rome this coming Saturday, and then on Sunday I fly off to Chicago. I am healthy. My heart problem of earlier this year has not bothered me since I received treatment in the States. Granted, I am taking a boat load of medicine every day, but that is part of the price of getting older. I am 66 years old right now, and the only serious complaint I have is that it takes me longer and longer to get over jet lag. It used to be one day for each hour difference, but now that has come closer to two days for each hour. On our way here, we stopped in Padua and had lunch with the friars. We then went into the Basilica to pray at the tomb of St. Anthony. It is such a prayerful place. The basilica in Assisi has a lot of beautiful artwork, so it often feels like a museum. That in Padua is not all that great, so people come to it to pray. They took a poll years ago asking Italian to whom they pray when they need something. St. Anthony won by huge margins. A distant second was Mary. The a very distant third was Jesus. I am not saying this is good, only that this is the way it is. I finished some reading: The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde This is a very funny account of a group of police who work for the fable investigation squad. They are searching for the killer of Goldilocks, as well as trying to apprehend the Gingerbread Man who has escaped from a mental health facility. It is almost silly at times, but rescues itself by creating a world in which all of the action makes sense. I was surprised at how much I got into the book and enjoyed it. The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffery Deaver This is an excellent police story. It takes place in a small town in the Midwest, and the hero of the story is a small town detective, Bryn, who has good police techniques. The side story is how she fails in her relationship with her husband, and how that relationship goes. There are many twists and turns, as I have come to expect in Deaver’s books. Birth of a Drug by OpenLearn This course offers an outline of the work and research that must be done to find a new medicinal drug and to bring it to market. The specific study involves finding a high blood pressure that has few side effects and was longer lasting than those on the market at that time (which required a few doses a day). Hadrian’s Rome by OpenLearn This is like the other OpenLearns courses, a quick account of how the Emperor Hadrian changed the landscape of Rome. Among his most famous constructions was the renovation of the Pantheon, redone with a massive amount of numerical and symbolic content. Unlike the other courses in this series, this one also offers translations of firsthand accounts of his reign from various ancient historians. The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard Evans This is the first volume of a three volume production on the Nazi era. The author is very balanced, giving the historic, political, sociological, etc. reasons for the victory of the Nazis over the other political movements during the Weimar Republic and then for the initial activities of the Nazis once they came to power. The next volume covers the period from their taking of power to the beginning of the second World War, and then the third volume covers the time until their ultimate defeat. The books are very, very well written. I would recommend them to anyone. David Farragut by Charles River Editors This is an account of the life and activities of the first Admiral of the US Navy. This was an office that was not used until his time. He led the conquest of New Orleans and Mobile Bay (where he is famous for uttering to D..m the torpedoes – which were sea mines in those days – full speed ahead. Edith Stein by Charles River Editors This is the story of the Jewish phenomenologist who converted to the Catholic faith and joined the Carmelite cloister. Her community shipped her to the Netherlands when it became too dangerous to live in Germany, but even there she was not safe. After the Nazi conquest of that country, she was arrested with other Jewish converts and she was sent to Auschwitz where she died. She is one of the martyrs of Auschwitz who has been canonized by the Church. Have a good week and stay safe. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, August 31, 2020


September 1, 2020 I have returned to Rome after spending a couple of weeks in Ellicott City going from one doctor's office to another. These were mostly just annual checkups, but I have to get them all in at one time because I am so rarely in the area. For the first time I had a couple of web visits with the doctors. I was not sure how that would go, but I was very pleased with the result. I am now in isolation for two weeks. I am in my own room, and there is a terraza outside my room upon which I can take my daily walks. It is actually quite comfortable. The friars bring food to my room, and I get to see or talk to them at a distance. After the isolation, we will have another definitory meeting. This time we are going up to the mountains in the north for a bit of time together. These months have been so strange that we are rarely in the same place at the same time. The weather is quite nice in these days - the 80's pretty much every day. The summer heat seems to be over for at least a while. I have finished some reading: The Making of the President 1972 by Theodore White This is an extensive account of the second election of Richard Nixon to be president. The book concentrates on the mistakes of George McGovern and the Democratic Party. They allowed themselves to be high jacked by interest groups which then controlled the process. The actual election campaign proved to be chaotic and contradictory. Nixon’s campaign, on the other hand, proved to be highly professional and successful in fund raising. That makes the irony of their having gotten involved in the Watergate break ins all the more inexplicable. They simply did not need to do it for they would have won no matter what. The Lakota Way by Joseph M Marshall, II This is an interesting book which contains some of the legends of the Lakota people. Each of the stories contains a message which invites the listener to a particular virtue, such as compassion or hospitality or courage. The presentation is well done. This is a book I listened to through a new service I found called The Good Spy by Kai Bird This is an account of the career of Robert Aimes who served in the CIA, the Mid-East division for a long time. He was known for his openness to the cause of the Arabs, and he secretly established lines of communication with the PLO. He was killed in the bombing of the US embassy in Beirut. The book is well written, and gives one an insight to methods of spying as well as the influence of political turns in the environment of the country and their effect upon the work of those working for the government. Uluru by Charles River Editors This is the history of Ayers Rock in Australia, a place of great interest to tourists, but a sacred site to the Aboriginal population. This short books gives a geologic explanation for the rock, as well as a series of the Aboriginal legends concerning various events that occurred there. The French Revolution: From Enlightenment to Tyranny by Ian Davidson This is a very good, very thorough presentation of the history of the French Revolution. The author’s premise is that the revolution started out as a revolt of the middle class which was burdened under a very unfair taxation system. Only later did it develop into a class revolution with the onset of the Terror. There are many, many names of those involved, and it is easy to lose tract, but the book is never boring. Binary by Michael Crichton This is a story of a mad internal terrorist who wants to set off a poison gas attack during the Republican National Convention in San Diego. An investigator of the State Department must track down the terrorist and figure out his plans. The story is well written with a good amount of intrigue. The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts This is a very good presentation of World War II, but as is often true on books about World War II, from a particular point of view (British). It is quite long, but never boring or overly detailed. I could easily recommend this book to anyone. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Ellicott City

August 22, 2020 Peace and Good, I have been in Ellicott City for the past ten days or so for a series of doctors and dentist appointments. I have to admit that after all these visits, I am a bit tired of being poked and prodded. I have one more appointment and that will be it. I am heading back to Rome on the 26th. I have a letter saying that my presence is required for a meeting of our business. That is a reference to our next definitory meeting in a couple of weeks. I will still have to do a two week quarantine in my room. This will be the third one that I have done. I have finished some reading: Famous Romans by J. Rufus Fears This is a course with the Teaching Company that follows the example of Livy to produce a list of famous Romans. The information in the course is very good, but the presentation by Rufus Fears is much to dramatic, almost comical. The Etruscans by Charles River Editors Like all of the Charles River Editors books, this gives good information concerning the civilization in central Italy that preceded Rome. It speaks of the many elements of the Etruscan culture that Rome later borrowed (e.g. roads, augury, etc.). The Oceans by OpenLearn This is one of the free courses from the Open Learn company concerning the oceans (what type of water, salinity, currents, weather, etc.). It is highly technical and, in spite of the fact that it presents a good amount of information, difficult to understand at times. The First Italian War by Charles River Editors This book speaks about the intervention of France and Spain in the politics of Italy during the 15th century which involved the battles in Florence, Venice, Rome and Naples. It took a very bad situation of warfare between various city states and made the situation much worse. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Paris by Charles River Editors This is the story of the basilica on Mont Marte in Paris. The story is well told, but it is very odd that the author spends the whole first third of the book speaking about Celtic worship on the hill where the basilica was built. It was built after the war between France and Prussia, a disastrous affair for France. It thus came to be identified with the religious right in France against the left (following the establishment and the destruction of the Commune in Paris at the end of the war). There was also a bit of controversy in the design of the Basilica, but it has grown to be a significant site for tourists in the city. History of Havana by Captivating History This is a short account of the history of the city of Havana from the days of its foundation early in the Spanish colonial days up to the present. The story is well told, with all the invasions and hurricanes and internal rebellions. Be safe. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, August 10, 2020

Arroyo Grande, California

August 10, 2020 Peace and Good, I have beenout at our Novitiate in Arroyo Grande for the past two weeks. This is located mid way between Los Angeles and San Francisco in a rather rural area, not all that far from the ocean. The weather has been great with the marine layer (morning fog) cooling off the temperature to the 70's each day. I have been giving conferences to the novices on Sacred Scripture, especially the Gospels, the Book of Revelation and the Psalms. There are six novices, and they are a good group of young men. The novice director is Br. Joseph Wood, and the assistant is fr. Maurice Richard. They are both very good in their service to the novices. We also have an elderly friar here (as we try to have in each house of formation). This is fr. Julian Zambinini who served in Rome and Assisi for many years. While here, I have a covid 19 test. I have to say that the service offered here was tremendous. The people on the internet site were helpful, the test itself was quick, and the results took only four days (which is much, much better than many other sites). I needed the test because I am heading out to the East Coast in these days and have a series of medical check ups, and they all require one to have had the test. I am negative at this point. I will be heading out to Baltimore tomorrow. I am not thrilled to pass through a couple of airports, but.... The flight from San Francisco is only about 5 1/2 hours, which is not bad considering some of the flights I have been on in these months. I have finished some reading: Biofuels by OpenLearn This is a short account of the various forms of biofuels and their possible environmental impact. The presentation is not all that extensive, but it does give quite a bit of information that is useful. Caligula by Hourly History This is an account of the emperor who followed Tiberias and preceded Claudius. He actually started out quite well, especially after the absentee and capricious and cruel reign of Tiberias. Only shortly into his reign, however, he suffered from a near fatal illness, and he seems to have become unhinged afterward. This account speaks of some of his cruelty and the horrific manner in which he treated his subjects. He was assassinated in a plot to end the madness of his reign. George Patton by Captivating History This is the story of the famous World War II general whose battle tactics were incredibly successful against the Germans. As good as he was in battle, he was that unsuccessful in his actions and speech which were at times disastrous. This account gives a good overview of his life. Seeing Further: The Story of Science, Discovery and the Genius of the Royal Society by Bill Bryson This is a series of essays by members of the Royal Society on topics that deal with science and its impact upon the world today. This is an unusual book by Bryson who usually writes humorous accounts of his travels. The essays are on various topics and they vary in density of content (a few being quite dense). The Kingmaker’s Daughters by Philippa Gregory Philippa Gregory has written a number of novels set in the pre-Tudor and the Tudor era. They are from the point of view of the women who were involved. From what I can see, they are very well researched. The characters are believable, and the action is well laid out. This particular volume deals with the daughters of Warwick, the kingmaker (putting Edward IV on the throne and deposing Henry VI). I truly enjoy listening to these books. Men and Cartoons by Jonathan Lethem This is a very odd collection of short stories, many of which involve super heroes (but often not of the first grade of importance, e.g. Goat Man. It is entertaining, and some of them make one think. The Black Death by Captivating History This is an account of the great plague which hit Europe during the Middle Ages. Typical of a number of the captivating history productions that I have read, it is very down on the Catholic Church, blaming it for the poor response to the plague. Furthermore, it is incredibly judgmental of society for not responding with more rapidity when they heard that plague had broken out in China, etc. This charge is absurd, given the poor communication between Europe and East Asia at the time. I am not sure how many more of the captivating histories I even want to read. The Greek and Persian Wars by John Hale This is a series of lectures on the relationship between the great Persian Empire and the city states of Greece from the foundation of these states to the end of the reign of Alexander the Great. Like almost all of the Great Courses lectures, this presentation is well done and I could easily recommend it to others. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, August 3, 2020

Arroyo Grande, California

August 3, 2020 Peace and Good, I have been in our novitiate all this past week giving lessons to the six novices. I will be here til the 11th, which is good because that fills out my two weeks of self-isolation requested at the airport when I arrived. No problems so far, although I do admit that I have bought a thermometer and have gotten in the practice of measuring my temperature twice a day, no matter what. The lessons are going very well. I covered major topics in the Gospels this past week, and will look at the Psalms this coming week. The novices are very interested, and they have great questions (which I always like, because even if I don't know the answer, it forces me to investigate and further my own knowledge). The weather is incredibly beautiful. We are not all that far from the ocean, so there is the marine layer which moderates the temperature. The mornings are wonderfully cool. I went into town (Grover Beach) to go to my favorite Vietnamese restaurant. I found out that during the crisis they only have take out. I went to another restaurant which only has out of doors service. It was such an odd feeling that I ended up going home to eat lunch. It was almost dystopian. I can't wait til things are settled out (although I do have a lot of worries that they are rushing the vaccine too much for political reasons). I have finished some reading: Saint Augustine by Hourly History This is a short overview of the life and work of St. Augustine. It is well done, without any of the anti-Catholic prejudice that I often find in the Captivating History series. Rediscovering the Dead Sea Scrolls: An Assessment of Old and New Approaches and Methods This is a series of essays on various methodologies used to study the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some of them have to do with the process of reconstructing the original text from a series of disjointed fragments. Others deal with sociological and historical studies which, while on the surface don’t exactly have a lot to do with the scrolls, nevertheless offer insight into the meaning of the texts. Uranium: War, Energy and the Rock that Shaped the World by Tom Zoellner This is an audio book that I listened to concerning the element uranium including its discovery, mining, use and misuse. It deals with those who would like to use it to provide energy, as well as those who consider it to be too dangerous to use extensively. It also deals with the difficulties its mining has caused to indigenous populations such as the Aborigines of Australia. While it presents some of the science behind its use (both for energy and weapons), it does such in a way that is not overwhelming. A Devil is Waiting by Jack Higgins This is one of several books by Higgins that I have read. The premise of most of them is that there is a team of soldiers and ex-IRA provos who are working for the Prime Minister of Great Britain (directly) to fight against communism, which often involves Islamists, ex-IRA members who have not given up the fight, and Russian oligarchs. I have to admit that I liked his first books better for now the formula is starting to get a bit old. How do Empires WorK? By OpenLearn This is a short course that describes the difference between the Chinese empire of the last centuries and the British Empire and their collision during the Opium Wars. American Colossus by HW Brand This is the history of the US from the time of the Civil War up to the First World War. It especially deals with the growth in economic power in the States, but it also deals with social problems like the plight of African-Americans in the south, the labor movement, immigration, etc. It is a very well written book with an immense amount of information which is well delivered. Patrice Lumumba by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of one of the leaders of post-colonial Congo. The Belgian king Leopold exploited the colony for his own purposes, allowing the murder and torture of so many people. The Belgian government eventually took the colony away from the king, but never prepared the people for independence. When it did become independent, a civil war broke out almost immediately (often fostered by the economic interests of rich investors in the mining industry. Lumumba was a civil servant who tried to govern the country as it was falling apart. He applied for assistance to the Soviet Union and China (largely because the US and Great Britain would not help the new country because of their ties to those businessmen who were destroying the country). He was labeled as a communist, and was assassinated by Congolese rebels with the complicit approval of the CIA. Have a safe week. Shalom fr. Jude

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Rome - Arroyo Grande, CA

July 28, 2020 Peace and Good, Yesterday I flew in from Europe to be at our novitiate in Arroyo Grande, California ( just outside of San Luis Obispo). There are six novices this year. I will be here until August 11th, presenting lessons on the Gospels and the Psalms and just sharing information about the Order. Travelling these days is no fun. There is a lot of paperwork and checkups along the way. I flew from Rome to Munich, there to Los Angeles, and Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo. I flew Lufthansa this time. The flight to Los Angeles was at most 1/6th full. Very few people are flying. The airports are all but empty. Everyone is wearing masks, although some are wearing them the wrong way and some take them off a lot in public. Arriving in the States was not bad. There was a form to fill out, they took our temperature, and gave us a brochure on self-isolation. The weather out here is perfect. The marine layer comes in at this time every year, so the temperature is about 70 during the day. It was much, much hotter in Rome. I finished some reading: Hangman by Faye Kellerman This is the first book I have read by Kellerman. She writes about a detective who is a practicing Jew (which enters often into the book). It is a good story. In this case, the story is about two mass murderers who are tracked down by the detective’s team. I intend to read other books by her. Ivan the Terrible by Captivating History This is the outline of the life and madness of Ivan. The title terrible is really a mistranslation of his title, for he was considered to be Ivan the Awesome, but he was also terrible, especially as he descended into murderous paranoia. The book speaks of the good he did, but also of the terrible massacres he committed with his accomplices. The author goes out of his way to excuse Ivan for this due to the murderous atmosphere in which he was raised. Wall Street Wars by Richard Farley This book deals with the attempt by the FDR administration to deal with the monetary difficulties during the depression. It included dealing with the stock market, the banks, and the gold standard. It deals with the various debates in the Congress and the lobby techniques of the moneyed class. The most interesting section deals with the work of Joseph Kennedy as the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. This was the father of JFK, and the author is very complementary concerning his efforts. The Texas Revolution by Charles River Editors This is the story of the settlement of Anglos in Texas after the time of the American Revolutionary War which meant that they outnumbered the Hispanic settlers. It speaks of the tensions among them and the Native Americans. The Americans eventually broke away from Mexico which had gained its independence. The book speaks of the siege at the Alamo. It also speaks of the eventual annexation of Texas into the US. JFK’s Last Hundred Days: The Transformation of a Man and the Emergence of a Great President by Thurston Clarke This book deals with the last few months of JFK’s life before his assassination in Dallas. It has an enormous amount of inside information. The author is honest about what he knows and what he does not know. What is interesting is that Kennedy was doing an internal review of the US relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba, as well as rethinking our involvement in Vietnam. The book covers the assassination of the President of Vietnam in a coup approved by the US. The book also deals with the relationship between Jack and Jackie, which seems to have been improving in these months. The Darkest Summer: Pusan and Inchon in 1950 by Bill Sloan This is a long and good treatment of the first year of the Korean War from the invasion by the North Koreans to the entrance of the Chinese into the struggle to countermand the invasion of ally troops into the far north of North Korea (along the border with China). It necessarily deals with the various military leaders for the Americans, including the always temperamental and sometimes unhinged MacArthur. The book gives extensive remembrances from the troops who fought. It is well done. Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Hourly History This is a short biography of the heroic Lutheran Church pastor who opposed the Nazi’s in his homeland. It speaks about his insights, his attempts to influence policy during the time of the Nazi’s, his insistence that he belonged in Germany (and his refusal to flee to safety) and finally his execution in the closing days of the war. One would have wished for a bit more insight into his personal struggle with his decisions and the dynamics of his faith life. Keep Safe. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, July 20, 2020


July 21, 2020 Peace and Good, I hope you all are well. I finished my quarantine in Rome and am now free to go around. Most of the people do not wear masks on the street, but it is required in mass transit. I still like to put mine on whenever I go out. We have our definitory meeting this week. Every morning is our usual business, and then in the afternoon we have a Zoom meeting with the presidents of the various federations throughout the world (7 of them). This kept the presidents from having to travel to Rome in this uncertain times. The rules of various countries seem to change by the hour. Spain and France have now closed their borders due to a new outbreak. I am able to be in Italy because of our meeting. I will be leaving Italy on Monday, heading to our novitiate in California. On the one part, California is not doing that well with Covid, on the other I will be in the novitiate which is fairly isolated. The weather here has gotten hot, hot, hot. This is normal for the end of July and August. It is strange to see so few tourists in the city. The Europeans tend to come here in the late Spring and the early Fall, while the Americans come during the summer. There are no Americans around this year. I finished some reading: Influenza: A Case Study by OpenLearn This is one of those free university courses on an individual topic from OpenLearn. This one tends to be highly technical and really only serves someone who has studied the dynamics of disease transmission and control. World War II: D-Day by Hourly History This is a short account of the planning, execution and aftermath of the D Day invasion. The author gives a good amount of information in a very short format. The Eucharist in the West: History and Theology by Edward Kilmartin, SJ This is the study produced by Edward Kilmartin and edited after his death by another Jesuit. It is highly complicated and intense, but had a wealth of information. I had to read it slowly and carefully, but it gave me a series of insights into various topics about the Eucharist and the celebration of the Mass. Anglo-Saxons by Captivating History This is a short account of the settlement and kingdoms of the Angles and Saxons, Germanic settlers in England. It offers too much information about individual kings, leading to a confusing mix that is not all that helpful. The Abbey by James Martin, SJ This is a short but very nicely written book about a custodian of an abbey and his landlady and their relationship to a couple of the monks of the abbey near Philadelphia. It is not the best book I have read on a topic like this, but it is good. Especially good is the author’s attempt to recognize the need for a difficult and complicated faith journey in the characters. Werewolves by Charles River Editors This is a short book on the various traditions and myths concerning werewolves throughout Europe. Much of what we know from films and TV programs is a later development in the legends. Sometimes the legends have the werewolf an accomplice of the devil, other times not. Have a safe week. Shalom fr. Jude

Tuesday, July 14, 2020


July 14, 2020 Peace and Good, Today marks the 43rd anniversary of when I first set out for Europe to begin my studies there with my classmate, fr. Robert Twele. I have only a couple of days left in my quarantine. These days have been very productive. I have finished my daily reflections on scripture up to the end of August, and I have finished all of my articles for the Messenger of St. Anthony until the end of next year. Next week we have a meeting of our definitory, and after that I will head to California to spend some time with our novices. After that I will head to Ellicott City for some doctor's and dentist's visits, and then back here again. The way things are going in the States, I will most probably have another two week period of quarantine. Needless to say, I have gotten quite a bit of reading done in these days: Bunker Hill by Nathanael Philbrick All that Philbrick has written is well done, and that is especially true of this book. It deals with what preceded the battle, the battle itself, and its aftermath. It gives a good insight into some of the major characters involved, and provides ample background information on the whole period. This is a book that I can easily recommend. Trail of Tears by Captivating History This is an account of the ethnic cleansing decision by President Andrew Jackson to exile all of the native Americans in the Southeast US to Oklahoma. Although they signed a fraudulent treaty, the US authorities never kept the provisions of their own agreement. Thousands died along the way from North Carolina and its environs to Oklahoma. The author goes a little overboard in declaiming the blatant racism of this (which it was), but the story needs to be told. Halicarnassus by Charles River Editors This is a major city in Asia Minor that played a major role in various wars and advances and retreats of world empires. It was the birthplace of Herodotus, the famous Greek historian. It was also the site of the famous tomb of King Masalaus, which gave the name to the structure known as the Mausoleum. Gene Manipulation in Plants by OpenLearn This speaks about the techniques of gene manipulation in plants used for agriculture. It gives two major examples: to resist the effects of herbicides and antibiotics, and to add nutritive value to the crop. It also deals with some of the questions raised by those who are deeply suspicious of genetically altered crops. The Dark Ages by Captivating History This is a short account of the history of Europe from the fall of the Roman Empire in the West until the coming of the Renaissance. The author of this series tends to be anti-Catholic and anti-Church, but other than that, his information is interesting. The Battle of Kursk by Hourly History This is the story of a great tank battle that occurred in the Ukraine in the summer after the defeat of the Germans at Stalingrad. This was an attempt by Hitler to regain the initiative, but the Soviets knew about the coming battle and prepared well for it. The German loses during the battle meant that they were henceforth on the defensive until the end of the war. I, Ripper by Stephen Hunter This is a fictional account of the career of Jack the Ripper told from three perspectives: that of a diary written by Jack himself, that of the memoirs of a reporter who followed the story, and that of a series of letters written by a prostitute in this era. The book is not intended to be the official solution to the mystery, but simply a take on the story. It is well done. Ten Tea Parties: Patriotic Protests that History Forgot by Joseph Cummins We tend to know about the Boston Tea Party, but we often don’t realize that this was only one of the many forms of resistance involving the tea trade that took place in the colonies around the same time as the affair in Boston. This book goes through the various stories of other episodes, asking at times how historic the accounts are. Managing Coastal Environments by OpenLearn This is a very short course on the dynamics of dealing with estuary and marshland maintenance. It deals with human manipulation of the environment (for agriculture, for seaside houses, etc.) as well as the mega-effect of global warming and the rise in sea levels In precarious areas. It speaks of efforts to rehab some coastal environments as well. The short course is quite informative. Keep Safe. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Seoul, South Korea - Rome

July 5, 2020 Peace and Good, Well, I made it back to Italy. The trip was long, going from Korea to Doha, Qatar, and then from there to Rome. The first plane was almost empty, but the second was packed to the gills. There was absolutely no social distancing. We had to wear face masks and shields the whole way. I did not know if I would get into Italy because of Coronavirus restrictions. In Seoul, they had to call Italian immigration to make sure they would accept me. That took about an hour and a half to get an answer, and I was really starting to get nervous. Then the thumbs up came and I flew out. In Rome, there was absolutely no difficulty. I do have to make another two weeks of self-isolation, but that is in my own room in Santi Apostoli. Furthermore, I have a beautiful terraza outside my room, so I can do my daily walk there. It has gotten hot in Rome, much more so than in Korea. I will be here in Rome until the end of the month, and then head out again to California. All of my travel plans are tenuous, though, because of rules that change every other day. I have to admit that we Americans don't look that good around the world right now because of our poor response to Covid 19. Korea worked very hard at their infections, and they are down to 20 to 30 per day in the whole country. I have finished some reading: Madamn de Pompadour by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the famous mistress of King Louis XV of France. Although not glamorous nor of the nobility, she managed to become indispensable for the king for a long period of his life (even though he was also married). She used her power carefully, and also served as a procurer of younger and more beautiful women to amuse the king (without ever endangering her hold on his affections and attention). Loos 1915: the Unwanted Battle by George Carrigan This is one of the many pointless and hopelessly lethal battles of World War I. It has a lot of military detail, much more than the casual reader would be interested in considering. Yet, it is good as an example of how cheap life became when one’s goals were out of perspective during a time of crisis. The Fear Index by Robert Harris Robert Harris has become one of my favorite authors. He is the author of a trilogy upon Cicero, a novel about a Tony Blair like figure, of Alfred Dreyfus of the Dreyfus Affair. This novel is a bit different. A brilliant Artificial Intelligence scientist develops a plan to invest money in the stock market based on playing against the fears for some sort of turmoil that the market might be facing. Being an artificial intelligence, though, the machine begins to think and plan for itself. The book is very good. King Edward VI by Hourly History This is a short biography of the son of Henry VIII who took the throne after him. He died a very young man the throne passed to his half-sister Mary who tried to restore Catholicism to England, using considerable violence. The author is clearly prejudiced in his book, cheering every way that Edward worked to make England more Protestant. The Origin of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms by OpenLearn This is a short university course that speaks of the reign of Charles I and the origin of the wars that developed in Scotland, Ireland and England. Each of the rebellions had its own cause. Some of it was based on religion, while other aspects like Charles’ attitude toward his reign (believing in the divine right of kings) played a role, as did the party of Puritans who wanted to make England more clearly Protestant. Boudicca: Warrior Woman of Roman Britain by Caitlin Gillespie This was a warrior queen who rebelled against the power of Rome during the reign of Nero. She and her followers managed to burn three important Roman cities and they fought bravely against the legions of Rome. She died when she was defeated. Boudicca fought the Romans largely because her husband, the king, had left his inheritance to Nero in the hope that the Romans would protect and respect Boudicca and her daughters, but the Romans abused Boudicca and raped her daughters. Have a good and safe week. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Seoul - Inchon - Busan - Ilgwang - Daegu - Seoul

June 29, 2020 The Feast of Ss Peter and Paul Peace and Good, I have entered into my last week in Korea. I will leave for Rome very early on Friday morning. As you can see, I have been travelling around the nation visiting the friars. When I took the train with another friar, there were no problems. The only thing is that one is supposed to wear a mask whenever one is in public. The friars have been most hospitable. Theoretically, after I write my report, I am supposed to travel back here to give the report at their chapter in October. I doubt that is going to happen given the requirements for quarantine. I will probably have to give it over Zoom. The weather is warming up. Korea can be very hot and humid in the summer. This week also begins the rainy season. I have finished some reading: Delphi Complete Works of Giotto This is the first of the Delphi collections that I have read. This is a series of books on various authors. It covers their major works, and also reprints major works by art critics on this particular artist. Giotto is famous for passing from the Byzantine style of art to a more modern form with different coloring, more life in the characters, and background rather than static formulas as in Byzantine icons. His work is especially evident in Padua (the Scrovegni Chapel), Assisi (St. Francis Basilica) and Florence. The Apache and Comanche by Charles River Editors This short book deals with these two famous and ferocious tribes from the American Southwest (especially in the area of Texas and New Mexico). It gives the history and major characteristics of the tribes as well as their eventual defeat by American or Mexican (or both) invaders. Incredible Victory: The Battle of Midway by Walter Lord Walter Lord has written many good books on individual topics, such as the sinking of the Titanic (A Night to Remember). This book covers the miraculous victory of American aerial forces against a Japanese invasion of the island of Midway. Much of the victory was due to the fact that the Americans had broken the codes of the Japanese, but much of it was incredible luck for most of the waves of American bombers were shot down without doing any damage. Only a few of the last planes got through, and ultimately the Americans destroyed four Japanese aircraft carriers for the loss of one American one. Dunmore’s War: The Last Conflict of America’s Colonial Era by Glenn F Williams Governor Dunmore was the head of the colonial government of Virginia, and this is the story of how a series of Indian raids (which were often caused by settler encroachment upon their territory) led to an Indian war just before the War of Independence. In fact, news of Lexington and Concord reached the colonial troops during their battles. The book tries to give a balanced view of the events, but it does lean at times to an apologia of the Virginia forces. Patrick Kingsley by Audible Interviews This is an interview with a reporter who has written a book on the refugee crisis in Europe (The New Odyssey). He tries to understand the state of the problem from every viewpoint without being too judgmental. He tells the stories of various refugees whom he has met. Ann Morgan by Audible Interviews This is the author of a book about twins who decide to take each other’s place (Beside Myself), but one of them ends up suffering from mental illness. She hears voices in her head, and has manic and depressive moments in her life. As always, there is a difficult dynamic with members of her own family in dealing with this problem, especially “mother.” Revolutionary Summer by Joseph J. Ellis Joseph J. Ellis is a good author of topics concerning the Revolutionary era of American history, and this book is a good example of that. It deals with the aftermath of the colonial victory at Boston and their defeat in the New York City area. It is honest about the missteps of both the British and American leadership. It is a good read. Have a good and safe week. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Inchon - Seoul - Gangwa - Yahgpyeong -- South Korea

June 22, 2020 Peace and Good, I am out of quarantine and doing my visitation of the Korean province. There are about 65 friars, spread out in 8 friaries in Korea and one in the States. They are involved in many different apostolates (parish, care for handicapped children, care for the elderly, retreat house, etc.) Visiting the province is a bit of a challenge, because I must always remember not to apply my US or Roman way of judging. It is a very different culture. I will be in Korea until July 3rd when I head back to Rome. I don't know yet whether I will have a quarantine when I arrive there or not. The weather here is getting very hot. It is also quite humid here in Seoul for it runs along the Han River. The food is very good but you have to like it spicy because it always is. I finished some reading: 1861 Civil War Beginnings by Nick Vulich This is one of the worst books I have read in a long while. Vulich portrays himself as a new type of historian, but some of his writing borders on childish. This is the last book I will read by this author. Ernest Hemingway by Charles River Editors This is easily one of the best biographies that I have read from Charles River Editors. The life and works of Hemingway are treated honestly, showing the talent and the personal shortfalls of Hemingway. The author delves into some of Hemingway’s personal history to explain some of his plots and his self-destructive tendencies. I strongly recommend this particular treatment. Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths by Bruce Feiler I read this book as part of a research for a talk I am giving in Romania in a short while. The author is a Jewish man who studies the story of Abraham and its treatment by Jewish, Christian and Islamic commentators. He sees this common figure in these three religions as a possible starting point in dialog. His treatment of the story is at times creative, and is always well studied and from the heart. Inheriting Abraham by John D. Levenson This is a book which I read as part of a research for a talk that I am giving in Romania. It speaks about Abraham from the perspective of Jewish, Christian and Islamic sources. Part of the premise of the book is that Abraham is not a figure to base an inter-religious dialog upon. He argues that the positions taken by authors of each of these religions has made that type of exercise futile and irrelevant. Many of his arguments are well taken, but some of them are made by taking the most extreme of possible interpreters and then positing that position as exemplary of the entire school of interpretation. Elizabeth and Essex: a Tragic History by Lytton Strachey Essex was a noble in the court of Queen Elizabeth during her last years. This book deals with the queen who could be both capricious and maddingly unable to make a decision, and Essex who was impetuous and sought glory at any cost. Although she madly loved him, she also did things that acted as a red flag in front of this vain and at times foolish man, until he finally chose to rebel against her and she executed him. Two Americans: Truman, Eisenhower and a Dangerous World by William Lee Miller This is a comparison on these two important American figures. The author speaks of how contemporaries judged them (with Eisenhower more popular at the time) and how historians not judge them (with Truman seen as the better president). He deals with how they dealt with the Korean War, the McCarthy Red Scare, the Atomic Bomb, Civil Rights, etc. In all, Miller holds in favor of Truman, even if he is able to recognize his shortfalls. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Inchon, South Korea

June 14, 2020 Peace and Good, I am still in quarantine in a hotel near the airport in Seoul, South Korea, but the end is in sight. I will be released on Wednesday morning, and yesterday they sent around a form to ask about my transportation needs. The food has been very good (brought to the room three times a day). The room is nice, although taking my 40 minute walk each day is a challenge. I have had a good amount of time for writing and have finished half of another book ( a children's Bible aimed at 5th and 6th graders). Once I am out of the hotel, I will be doing my visitation of the province. It is about 65 friars, and they have 8 or 9 friaries. I have already visited their friary in California, in Torrence, where they have a chapel to serve the needs of the Korean Catholic population in that region. The weather is nice, and summer is slowly arriving. I have finished some reading: The Rise and the Fall of the British Empire by Patrick Alitt This is a 36 lecture course on the growth and the demise of the British Empire. The professor, while British, is remarkable honest about the positive and negative dimensions of the empire’s treatment of its colonies. He is also entertaining, with a dry sense of humor that makes listening to the courses a joy. The Wonder of Birds by Jim Robbins This is an interesting account of what we can learn from birds, how we can celebrate them, and what we don’t know about them (e.g. how they navigate during migration – is it possible that they are conscious of magnetic or quantum forces that we cannot perceive). It also deals with the value of caring for birds both ecologically and for troubled people who are consoled by the beauty and majesty of birds in flight. World War II in the Arctic by Charles River Editor This is an account of the two wars fought in the Arctic during World War II: the Nazi and Finnish invasion of the far north of the Soviet Union, and the Japanese invasion of the two Aleutian islands of Attu and Kisha. It gives information of how the battles were fought, what the stakes were, and how both invasions ultimately failed. John Connolly by Audible Interviews This author speaks about his book on Stan Laurel from Laurel and Hardy fame. Laurel had been married five times with numerable affairs. His book is historical fiction. This is a bit of a change from his usual topic which is the Charlie Parker detective novels. What is Europe by OpenLearn This essay deals with the question of the identity of Europe and the Europeans. Is it to be a geographic definition, or a cultural one? How tightly united should Europe be, especially in the European Union? Should periferal areas be allowed into the definition, like Turkey or Georgia? The essay does not have many final solutions, but it does speak of unity in diversity as the best policy. Joan of Arc by Helen Castor This is the first book I have read by Castor, but it won’t be the last. The book is a brilliant presentation of the history of the times (the hundred years war). It presents a portrait of John of Arc in as much as we know about her. It is not saccharine or over negative, finding the proper balance in the presentation. It includes account of her two trials (the one the condemned her and a later, posthumous one that overturned that verdict) as well as her canonization. This book is highly recommended for anyone interested in the topic. Living in a Globalized World by OpenLearn This is a short course on how the globalized economy developed. The professor gives a good outline of the historic process and the pluses and negatives involved in the process. For a very short presentation, I feel as if I learned a lot. Aaron Burr by Captivating History This is a short account of this man, one of the Founding Fathers and the third vice-president of the country, who was always known for his blind ambition and very loose sexual morals. He is the one who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel, and also planned a treasonous act of conquering the western parts of the US and parts of Mexico to set up his own country. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, June 8, 2020

Ellicott City - Seoul, South Korea

June 9, 2020 Peace and Good, Well, I finally left Ellicott City. The friars there treated me wonderfully, but given the peripatetic life style that I have lived in these years, I found it strange to be in the same spot for so long. On the other hand, it was great not to be suffering from jet lag which is often the case with me. I flew to South Korea via Atlanta. It was a long, long flight, especially because there was a screaming young child behind me for almost 15 hours. When I arrived in Korea, I wanted to self-quarantine in our friary where the friars had set aside an isolated room. But the authorities told me that since they were not officially relatives, I would have to stay at the government center. This is actually a hotel that the government is using for quarantine. It is very comfortable, and the only problem with the food is that there is too much. The food is brought to your door three times a day. You open the door, take the food, and close it again. That is the only time you are even close to leaving the room. I will be here until the 17th. It is really not bad at all, and I am getting some work done on my next book, a children's bible for the fifth and sixth grade level. The weather is nice, warming up. Seoul can get very hot and humid during the summer, but it has not yet hit. When I finish the isolation, I will visit the friars in this province to prepare a report for their provincial chapter (this November). I have finished some reading: Misery by Stephen King I had seen the movie with Cathy Bates and James Caan. That was scary. The book is every more so. There are some events that the film could not possibly have recorded which appear in the book. King in an incredible author in painting a scene of absolute terror. I highly recommend this book (and all of his books, which I especially like for the richness of the language used). Gene Miller by Charles River Editors This is a pleasant, short history of the band leader from the 30’s and 40’s. The book speaks about his rise in the music world, his collaboration with other band greats, his success, and his untimely death in December of 1944 in a plane crash over the English Channel when he was serving his country by organizing entertainment for the troops. The Flavian Dynasty by Charles River Editors This is a short history of the dynasty that succeeded Nero (and his immediate, short-lived successors) to take over the Roman Empire. They included Vespasian and his sons Titus and Domitian. The first two are ranked as quite good emperors (especially after the madness of Nero), but the last, Domitian (who may or may not have poisoned his brother, Titus) turned out to be paranoid and murderous. Volcanic Hazards by OpenLearn This is a short university course from OpenLearn (which are free on kindle) concerning the various ways that volcanoes are dangerous with a definition of terms. This particular course is not all that profound in its treatment of the topic. David Baldacci by Audio Interviews This is an interview of the author concerning his new series which revolves around an FBI agent named Atlee Pine. She runs an independent office in the countryside in the West (which involves two Native American Reservations). Exploring a Romano-African City: Thugga by OpenLearn This is a short university course with audio-visual supplements on a particular ancient city in Africa near the border with Mauritania. It shows elements of Roman culture from the time it was incorporated into the empire, but these elements grew as time went by. It is interesting to see at first the imposition of Roman culture and then gradually the tendency of the local population to embrace it (although always retaining certain of their own cultural elements). Stay healthy. Shalom fr. Jude