Friday, September 18, 2020

Cortina

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