Monday, December 27, 2021


December 27, 2021 Peace and Good, It has been quiet here in Rome the past several days. The covid omega variant is spreading quickly, so many people are staying at home. Masks are now required even outdoors. Our definitory meeting ended on the 23rd. It went very long, but we got a lot done, and we don't meet again here in Rome until the beginning of March. These next two months I will be in the States (the Midwest) doing two canonical visitations (if the pandemic allows). I will fly to Chicago on the 29th of December. Tomorrow I have to go and try to get a PCR test (Great Britain, through which I am passing, requires the PCR within 48 hours of taking off, the US requires at least a rapid test within 24 hours). Then tomorrow I will have to fill out some of the forms for flying. The weather here has been rainy these past few days, but not all that cold. Tomorrow is supposed to be nice, so I will walk to the clinic (c. 45 minutes) instead of getting a ride. On Wednesday I have to head to the airport at 4 AM (with two other friars who have an earlier flight, I leave at 8:05 AM). I am glad that the winter solstice is passed. I always have problems with light deprevation in December and early January. I should check out one of those light therapies for people with seasonly affect light disorder. I finished some reading: Pyrrhus of Epirus by Charles River Editors There is a phrase concerning victory which has left the victor badly damaged. It is called Pyrrhic victory. It is named after the general Epirus, from what today is Albania named Pyrrhus. This book is a biography of that general. He fought in Greece, the Romans and enemies in Sicily. After one of his victories over the Romans, he was congratulated by one of his generals. His response was that if he had very many more victories like that one, that he would be in real trouble. 10 Big Questions of the American Civil War by Caroline Janney This is a Teaching Company course marketed by Audible (for free) on some vexing questions concerning the Civil War (e.g. was it total war, was it fought over slavery, etc.). The professor is clear and gives a reasonable response to these questions. Her presentation was well done. Micro by Michael Crichton This is the story of a company in Hawaii which can shrink people to a very small level. The problem is that the head of the company has lost his perspective and possibly his mind. He kills a number of people who oppose him in any way, including sending a group of shrunken students out into the wild where they face a dangerous attempt to return to their normal size. Fratelli Tutti by Pope Francis I read this encyclical slowly to be a daily mediation. It is imbued with what we would call Franciscan values. I found the message a bit repetitive at times, but I believe that its message is essential in our times in which people so divided over so many issues. V2 by Robert Harris Harris is one of my favorite authors. He wrote a three volume series of historic fiction on the Roman Cicero. This book is about the V2 rocket attack on London, told both from a German and an English point of view. As with all his books, it is well done and pleasurable reading. He manages to tell a historic story with real people whose lives were changed by the events that occurred in their times. Nicholas II: The Fall of the Romanovs by B. R. Egginton This is a relatively short biography of Nicholas, the last czar of Russia, giving details of the history of his times and his family. The story is well told, without trying to find heroes or villains. Sue Perkins Earpedia Animals/Plants These are two of the podcasts that I have received from Audible. She tells the story of some unusual animals (such as the platypus, of the weasel, etc.)in the first series, and then unusual plants in the second. She has a tremendous light approach with a good sense of humor. It is just an enjoyable listen. Atlas of a Lost World by Craig Childs This is the account of the author’s trips to various desolate, out of the way sites in which he uncovers evidence of early human habitation (or at least experiences things which those inhabitants would have experienced. These trips include the regions of northern Alaska and the Aleutian Islands to the swamps of the southern US. Happy New Year fr. Jude

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Chicago - Rome

December 18, 2021 Peace and Good, The Minister General's trip to the States proved to be a very good experience. He returned to Italy on the 10th, while I stayed on for a couple of extra days to be present at the funeral of my niece's husband. Reid was a very good man, very involved in business, youth sports activities, the activities of the neighborhood, the Church, etc. The Church was packed, and there were five concelebrants at St. Clement Parish in Chicago. The trip back to Rome was uneventful, but the paperwork to travel is getting more and more burdensome. I have to have a letter of invitation, locator forms for both Great Britain and Italy, the covid certificate, the vaccination certificate, etc. The weather here in Rome is cool but clear. We are meeting in Definitory these days and will continue until Thursday of this week. December is always a longer definitory due to the buildup of tasks that have to be attended to at the end of the year. I have noticed that jet lag is taking me longer and longer to overcome. I arrived here on Monday, and last night was the first night that I really slept well. I finished some reading: Tocqueville and the American Experiment by William Cook This is a 24 lecture series from the Teaching Company about Baron de Tocqueville and his trip to America in the early 19th century and his observations upon American society. The presenter is a down to earth, even folksy professor from the State University system in New York State. I have listened to other courses presented by him, and he is always good. Many of the insights that de Tocqueville made prove to be relevant to our country today. Pyramid of Mud by Andrea Camilleri This is one of a series of books on a police commandant in Sicily and his investigations. There is a good bit of humor in the story, as well as clever insights. The protagonist of the story is presented with all of his flaws, but he comes across as someone who on balance is likeable and who is a good policeman. I liked the frequent mentions of food eaten at restaurants or at home, something one would certainly expect in an Italian story. Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger by Ken Perenyi This is a biographical account of a man who made his money be forging 17th century Dutch and 19th century American art. He speaks about his checkered life style as well as his artistic techniques. He gives an insight into the art world, and especially into the auction houses and art stores and their sometimes shady practices. Leningrad by Captivating History This is a short book on the history and especially on the siege of Leningrad during the Second World War. It is not as insightful as some of the books I have read on the topic, but that is to be expected given the short nature of these treatments (e.g. Captivating history, Charles River Editors, and Hourly History productions). Soldiers of Science by Alan Alda This is a podcast series (4 episodes) that speak about the young doctors who signed up with the National Institute for Health during the Vietnam War (sometimes to avoid being drafted into the war). The series speaks of the incredible discoveries that they made as they both researched and treated patients (thus never loosing track of why they were working). Nine of the doctors of that era won Noble Prizes, and incredible record of excellence and adventure. Alexander and the Macedonian Empire by Kenneth Harl This is one of the Teaching Company’s courses, with 36 lectures on Alexander, his father Philip, Greek and Macedonian culture, and the aftermath of Alexander’s conquests. The professor is filled with information, but never boring. He gives the various opinions on various topics (e.g. was Alexander a megalomaniac, a drunkard, a good general, etc.). I would highly recommend this series for anyone interested in the topic. The Day the World Ended: the Mount Pele Disaster May 7, 1902 by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts This is the story of the eruption of the volcano on the island of Martinique which destroyed the capital city on May 7, 1902. The author documents the attempts by the local governor and politicians to downplay the danger of the volcano because they were afraid it would affect the election due shortly. The local newspaper went along with the lies and half-truths told by the mayor of the capital and others. This resulted in an incredible disaster in which almost 30,000 people were killed due to a sudden pyroclastic flow upon the city. The Order of the Holy Sepulchre by Charles River Editors This is one of the medieval monastic/military orders founded in the Holy Land to protect and aid pilgrims and the holy places (others include the knights Templar and the hospitaliers, commonly known as the knights of Malta). They eventually transformed into a more ceremonial organization with fancy uniforms, but they still do collect and distribute funds to help finance the needs of the pilgrimage sites in the Holy Land. Merry Christmas fr. Jude

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Castro Valley, CA - Ellicott City, MD - Chicago, IL

December 8, 2021 Happy Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception I am continuing my trip with the Minister General, fr. Carlos Trovarelli, in the United States. He would like to visit each province a bit to get a sense of what is going on in each place before we celebrate our provincial chapters this coming April and May. From Castro Valley (Oakland) we travelled to El Paso, then Baltimore, and we are now in Chicago. Each place we go we meet with the Ministers Provincial and with the friars who can come to a gathering to meet him. It has gone very well. There has only been one travel glitch, a mechanical problem, but that only lasted an hour. Travel back to Europe has become challenging due to the changing rules on covid tests. In El Paso, fr. Carlos got to meet with the local bishop and also with two of the leadership team of the local tribe, the Tigua, who worship at our parish there. In Baltimore, we attended Mass at St. Casimir's Church and at the end there was a quick Christmas pagent. The very small children played the angels, the shepherds, and even the animals (donkey, sheep and cows). I was surprised that the lady leading the event used by Christmas book for the test of the pagent. I even read one of the last pages of the book to close the event. It was great. The Minister General is heading back on the evening of the 10th, and I will leave on the evening of the 12th. I will be staying in Chicago to attend the funeral of my nieces's husband. Please keep him, Reid, in your prayers. Also, please pray for Chrissy and her three children. I finished some reading: Five Days in London: May, 1940 by John Lukacs This is an account of the discussions and decisions made in London by the new Prime Minister, Churchill, and his cabinet. Belgium was surrendering, France was on the precipice, and the allied forces had begun to evacuate Dunkirk. This book runs from May 24 to 28. It deals with suggestions that negotiations be opened with Hitler or Mussolini, that the British recognize that they could not win, etc. The account is well done and well documented. The Byzantine Empire and the Plague by Charles River Editors The emperor Justinian had just reconquered many of the lands in Italy and Africa that had been lost to barbarian invasions. At that point, plague hit and devastated his empire and his army. Ironically, the barbarians were not as affected due to the looser societal bonds. The Church in Rome had to step forward and take control of events in the surrounding areas, all but ignoring the exarch of the Byzantines who lived in Ravenna (for he could provide no assistance). This short account gives a good overview of the tremendous impact this pestilence had upon society, government and religion. Emperors of Rome by Ron Carver This is part of a series of overviews on Roman topics provided by this author. The series is oddly disjointed, with no real time line. The writing style is so conversational that it is at times embarrassing. Overall, though, the individual sections are worth reading. The Zimmerman Telegram by Barbara Tuchman This is a book that I had read a long time ago, and rereading it was a joy. Barbara Tuchman is an accomplished history author. This volume deals with a telegram that the German foreign minister sent to Mexico and Japan during World War I to gain their assistance in the war (even if it meant going to war against the United States). He promised Mexico the lost areas of the southwestern US, e.g. New Mexico, Arizona, California, etc. The British were able to decode the message and shared it with President Wilson who desperately did not want to go to war. This and the unfettered submarine warfare eventually convinced Wilson to ask for war in April of 1917. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown This is an account of the relations between native Americans and the government and army of the US and Mexico. It is definitely from a native American perspective. In that sense, it is one sided, but since the story is most often told from the perspective of the manifest destiny to take over the continent, this is a good balancing account. It is troubling and leaves one depressed, as it was intended to do. War at the End of the World by James P. Duffy General McArthur is not my favorite person because I find him arrogant and pompous, but this account of his campaigns in New Guinea during World War II gives a different picture of him and his work. It deals with the attempt first not to allow the Japanese to conquer the entire island (lest they then take Australia or at least cut off it supply lines from the US) and then to roll back the Japanese tide on the northern part of the island. It is well written. The Basques by Captivating History The Basques are an ancient people who live in the northeast of Spain and southwestern France. They have their own language and culture. This short book is an account of who they are and their interaction with the various invaders who entered their territory and often sought to assimilate them, often with violence. It goes from their earliest origins to the present when the Basque territories in Spain have the status of autonomous regions. May the rest of you Advent be blessed. fr. Jude

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Buffalo - Castro Valley, CA

November 27, 2021 Peace and Good, I visited my family in Buffalo, and I also had a canonical visitation with one of our Croatian friars who serves in Our Lady of Bistrica Parish in Lackawanna, NY. The weather was good, and the food even better (as it always is in Buffalo). I flew to Oakland on Tuesday to visit our friary in Castro Valley, CA. We have two friaries in this town, the provincialate where I am staying and a parish down the street. The Minister General and the Assistant General for Asia will be arriving here Monday for the beginnin of a short tour of the States (in preparation for the provincial chapters this coming year). We will be heading back to Rome on December 10th. The weather here is most pleasant, around 70 degrees today. This morning the provincial of California signed the official document which establishes the delegation in Vietnam as a custody. This is the last step before they become a province, something that will probably not happen for 10 years or so. I would like to ask you to pray for my nieces husband, Reid, who is seriously ill. He and Crissy have three small children. I finished some reading: Chile and Argentina by Mark Szuchman This is a review of the history of these two South American countries from the time of the European exploration until the present. The narration is good, but the production has the annoying habit of reading quotes from various figures with the supposed accent they would have used, a bit racist in my opinion. The information contained in the presentation is quite good and thorough, if not exhaustive. This is one of the series of productions by Knowledge Products made available on John Jay by Captivating History This is a short biography of one of the principle figures of the American Revolution (significant in the writing of the constitutions) and the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the prime mover in the establishment of the Jay Treaty with Great Britain, and the governor of New York. These short biographies (c. 110 pages each) give a good outline of the significance of the figure to history, and also a bit of information about the personal life of the subject. Krishna by Charles River Editors This is a presentation of the figure of Krishna in the Hindu religion (as well as Buddhism and Jainism). The book gives an explanation of who Krishna is, and how he is worshipped. It also goes into a long overview of some of his exploits when he lived upon the earth. The Pigeon Tunnel by John le Carre I very much like the books of John le Carre (David Cornwall), but this is not exactly one of his spy novels. It is a type of autobiography, a presentation of times and places and situations which gave rise to many of his characters and plots for his books. I listened to this book, and I have to say it was absolutely entertaining. Le Carre’s writing style is always clever, and this book is one of his most masterful presentations. Gettysburg: A History for the People by John Cox This is an overview of the battle of Gettysburg. It is filled with useful detail, but also quite a bit of information that would be on interest only to those who are fascinated by the battle. One of things that I most missed in the book was a series of maps in the text that would help one to follow the various movements being described. An American Spy by Olen Steinhauer This is an incredibly complex spy story which leaves one wondering from the beginning to the end. What further complicates one’s understanding is the tendency to back track to an earlier episode to describe what really happened (or at least what happened according to someone else who had been present for that person). It involves the CIA, the Chinese spy agency and a secret UN agency that has been set up to spy. One is never quite sure which side the participants are on, or rather which sides (for they are often playing one group off against another). Yet, the book is very well written and I could recommend it. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Chicago - Buffalo

November 21, 2021 Peace and Good, This past week I presented a workshop on the Letters of St. Paul to our postulants. Postulancy is the first year for men who are entering out community. There are eight postulants in Chicago this year. This group was filled with questions, which I truly enjoy. Yesterday I travelled to Buffalo where I will visit some of my family and also do a canonical visitation to one of our Croatian friars who has worked here for the past 30 years. He is now quite elderly, and he probably intends to stay here at the Parish of Our Lady of Bistrica, a small parish in Lackawanna. I will be here until Tuesday, and then I will travel to Oakland (Castro Valley, CA) where I will spend Thanksgiving. On the 29th, our Minister General will arrive and I will travel with him throughout the country for about two weeks. I have finished some reading: Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet by Andrew Reilly This is a series of short essays on what it would take to establish a human presence on the planet Mars. Rather than bringing everything with them, future astronauts would have to discover how to use the resources that are already available there. Furthermore, some of those who would go there would have to intend to settle there for the rest of their lives. The author presents a list of the difficulties involved, but he also presents some of the possibilities that are available today, and what might be available in the near future. A History of Korea by Captivating History This is a history of Korea from the earliest settlements to the present era. Given its location, it has often been caught up by the national rivalries of the nations surrounding it, e.g. China, Japan and Russia. The book speaks of that dynamic, and the efforts of the local population to develop and maintain their own local culture and government. Unheard: the Story of Anna Winslow This is a series of podcasts which purports to outline an investigation into the death of a student in England possibly due to negligence by a research facility and/or a mental health facility. The premise of the podcasts are that they are part of a research project being developed by a fellow student of the deceased. Twentieth Century Ghosts by Joe Hill This is an anthology of ghost/horror stories gathered together by the author of NOS482. Some of the stories are true masterpieces, while others less so (as one often finds in any type of anthology). I would say that the book is well worth reading if one likes this type of literature. Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown This is the classic account of the fate of native American tribes during the 19th century seen mostly from the point of view of the native Americans. The stories are often tragic, and leave one furious at the blind point of view of many of the settles and soldiers during this period. There are any number of incidents that today would be called ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The Battle of Cannae and the Battle of Zama by Charles River Editors This is account of Hannibal’s most famous and most complete victory over the Romans at Cannae, and also of his defeat in North Africa at the end of the second Punic War. It gives a good portrait of the personality of Hannibal and the reasons for his choices. The short book is well done, as are most of Charles River Editors productions. Hitler’s Furies by Wendy Lower This is a most troubling account of the women who collaborated in the murders machines that the Nazi’s ran in the East of their empire during World War II. The women outlined at times tried to outdo their male counterparts in cruelty. After the war, they often tried to discount their culpability, blaming it on being young and easily influenced by what was going on around them. David Hume by Nicholas Capaldi This is a scholarly (but readable) outline of the great Scottish philosopher who challenged many of the beliefs on knowledge and science of his era. It is a part of the great philosophers series by Audible Books. Have a happy Thanksgiving. Shalom fr. Jude

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Rome - Louisville - Chicago

November 11, 2021 Peace and Good, I am on the move again, and will be in the States until December 10th, travelling here and there. International travel is getting marginally easier. One still has to have Covid tests and fill out form after form, but other than the mask wearing while one is in flight, it is really not all that bad. I was at a three day meeting of Our Lady of Consolation Province (Midwest and Southwest) at Mt. St. Francis, a site just outside of Louisville. The meeting went very well. The frias spoke of the present situation of the province and its dreams. Yesterday we drove to Chicago, about 5 hours of travel. I will be here next week to give a workshop to our postulants (postulancy is the year before novitiate). The weather here is changing, rain today and snow tomorrow. This is to be expected in Chicago at this time of year. I have been working on a new book in my mind. These days I hope to get an initial outline completed and we will see what comes of it. I finished some books: Samuel Adams: a Life by Ira Stoll This is a good portrait of the revolutionary Samuel Adams, and cousin of the second president John Adams. He was one of the most responsible for stirring up revolutionary spirit first in Massachusetts, and eventually throughout the colonies through his committees of correspondence which shared news about what was happening. Stoll is not afraid to show the flaws in Adams’ personality, the most troubling of all being his rabid anti-Catholicism. Adams served on countless commissions during the Second Continental Congress, and later helped write the Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Constitution and served as the second governor of the state. Lawrence Welk by Charles River Editors This is not exactly a scholarly production, but it is an interesting note on popular culture during the 50’s and 60’s. I remember how my parents turned on the Lawrence Welk show every Saturday evening. The book goes through Welk’s career, and the interesting note is how good a businessman he was, dying incredibly rich. The Seven Days: The Emergence of Robert E. Lee and the Dawn of a Legend by Clifford Dowdey This book deals with the beginning of Robert E. Lee’s career as the general in charge of the Army of Virginia which was protecting Richmond. The book is an honest evaluation of the characters and the successes and failures of all of the major characters in this drama. McClennan comes across as a great organizer but a terrible general. Lee is seen as something who is taking over a massive operation in mid-stream due to the injury of the commanding general Johnston. The surprise is the failure of Stonewall Jackson who had performed so brilliantly during the valley campaign, but who seemed out of sorts during this particular battle (possibly a victim of exhaustion). The book is well done. Van Gogh by Peter Russell This is one of the Delphi Masters of Art series. It deals with Van Gogh’s life, and his art. Then there is a massive appendix of his correspondence with his father, with his brother, and with others. The correspondence well shows the development of Van Gogh’s emotive difficulties that eventually led to his genius in art but also his collapse and probable suicide as a person. The Great Upheaval by Jay Winik This is a brilliant series of stories about three of the major players in the late 18th century and how revolution changed them. The author, whose works I have previously read, deals with the American, French and Russian revolutions. The Americans managed to find a balance between authority and change, the French failed terribly in this attempt due to a series of factors, and the Russians under Catherine the Great drifted from being the darling of the enlightenment to an autocratic empire. Winik is able to show how these three movements influenced each other for the positive and the negative. Nigeria and West Africa by Wendy McElroy This book gives a history of the area in Africa that eventually became Nigeria. It is not all that exhaustive, but it does give an outline to the history of pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial Nigeria. I would recommend it as a primer on the topic. The Forgotten Tudor Women by Sylvia Soberton This is an outline of the lives and careers of various women in the Tudor circles. The book deals with court politics and the explosive personalities of Henry VIII, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth. It is the kind of book that would be appreciated by Tudor fans, but for those who are not, it is filled with unfamiliar names and titles and is honestly not all that well written. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Saturday, October 30, 2021


October 30, 2021 Peace and Good, I have been in Rome all of this week for our General Definitory meeting. This is a long one, beginning on Tuesday and running all the way until next Friday (with All Saints and All Souls Day off as holidays). We have been discussing many different situations in many different countries. I almost feel as if I have jet lag just from all of the discussions. The weather is quite nice, with a bit of rain now and then. Today, Rome is pretty much in shutdown due to the meeting of the G20 and the presence of so many important leaders. You can hear helicopters flying overhead almost all the time. I will be in Rome (except for a one day trip to Assisi on Wednesday) until this coming Sunday. Then I will be flying in to Louisville. I have finished some reading: Hinduism by Gregory Kozlowski This is an outline of the development of Hindu beliefs and how this religion is related to other major faiths in the sub-continent (Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists). It is interesting that Hinduism really developed as a reaction to the influence of Islam and Christianity, for before it was simply a series of disconnected local beliefs. It was only when these beliefs entered India that people felt that they had to define who they were and what they believed. Tear Down This Wall by Romesh Ratnesar This is an account of Reagan’s famous speech in Berlin in which he called upon Chairman Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. The author deals with the politics of the nations as well as the politics of Reagan’s own staff as the speech was prepared. The end of the book deals with how the wall actually fell. The author is a bit too groveling when it comes to Reagan’s character, but the story is well outlines. Wicked Prey by John Sanford This is the story of a gang who plan to rob political lobbyists during the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. Due to the fact that much of the money that these lobbies possess is unreported and illegal, there is no way they can report what happened to them. But the plan begins to fall apart as member after member of the gang end up dead. There is a good amount of action. The characters are well outlined. The ending is in doubt until the very end. It is well done, and makes me want to read more of Sanford’s books. Plato’s Republic by Simon Blackburn This is a study of Plato’s Republic with its positive and also its negative elements. The author gives a good background to Plato and his times, and yet he is able to see how Plato falls short. Plato, for example, wanted to ban poets from his ideal republic, and he did not really believe in democracy, for he felt that the properly prepared autocrat, his philosopher king, would guide the people beast. The Overnight Kidnapper by Andrea Camilleri This is the second book by Camilleri that I have read. It is part of a series about a Sicilian police detective who must solve confusing crimes. Being Italian, Camilleri is able to get the background (food, Mafia, government political games) right. This volume is the story of a series of women who are kidnapped overnight, but nothing is done to them while they are under the chloroform that was used in their kidnapping. These crimes turn out to be only the surface of a deeper mystery that the detective must slowly solve. I find these novels very entertaining. Odd Apocalypse by Dean Koontz I have now read all of the Odd books by Koontz. This is probably the strangest of the several volumes on this fry book who is able to see ghosts books. It deals with Odd being invited to a mansion along with Anna Maria, a pregnant young woman who is much more than she seems to be. Strange, strange things begin to happen, and Odd must figure out what is going on so that he might rescue a young child who is being held captive in the mansion. Even though the action was different, I thoroughly enjoyed the person of Odd, who is just the right mix of kind, generous, dutiful person along with a good dose of wiseass. The Mark of the Assassin by Daniel Silva This is the story of an assassin who was trained by the KGB and secreted into the West as a sleeper agent. Now that the cold war is over, he is an assassin for hire. His services are acquired by a group of super rich and super powerful men who would like to control the government of the US, especially in terms of defense procurements. He is opposed by a CIA agent who must do things that were strictly forbidden in order to stop the assassin and his purposes. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Thursday, October 21, 2021

San Antonio, Texas - Rome

October 21, 2021 Peace and Good, I spent last week in San Antonio for a meeting of the provincials and custodes and delegates of our federation. The meeting went from Tuesday to Thursday. After that, we spent a few days exploring the area around San Antonio, including the Alamo, the riverwalk (which I highly recommend), and Panna Maria (the first site of the friars' work in America). Tuesday I flew from San Antonio to Rome. The trip was uneventful, which in these days is a real gift. Passing through passport control was remarkably easy. The weather here in Rome is quite cool, much more so than I encountered in Texas. I will be here for the next few weeks, travelling to the States again on November 6th. I finished some reading: The Man who made lists by Joshua Kendall This is the story of Dr. Peter Roget, and Englishman of Swiss descent, who developed the thesaurus that is most famous in the English speaking world. He had a difficult childhood and an impossible mother. His pain led him to an obsessive need to categorize things and words. His obsession served him well when he working as a secretary of various societies of higher learning. One gets the feeling that he was a functional victim of Asperger’s syndrome. He came out with his thesaurus only when he retired from his other activities, which included being a physician. The Bloody Mohawk: The French and Indian War and the American Revolution by Richard Berleth This is an account of the European settling of the Mohawk Valley in upper New York State and the tension between the native American population and the Dutch, German and English settlers. The most important of the English settlers turned out to be Sir William Johnson who served as a liaison with the Iroquois in that area. The history of the era is bloody and savage. Lincoln’s Gamble by Todd Brewster This is the story of how Lincoln came to first of all write and then later issue the Emancipation Proclamation. We see a Lincoln who is anything but firm in his ideas about slavery and its abolishment. The author shows the pressures that he was under (e.g. the danger of the loss of the border states). The declaration truly did not end slavery as such, for it was only valid in those states that at the moment of its issuance were still in rebellion. The author gives a good give and take on the whole story and the book is worth reading. Hitler’s Final Push: the Battle of the Bulge from the German Point of View edited by Danny Parker The author states that this is from the German point of view, but I didn’t realize how seriously he meant that. The book is filled with technical details about the planning of the offensive and the various points of view of how it should develop. The actual battle itself is almost a second thought. What information it gives is interesting, but most people would find its detail overwhelming and frankly boring. Vikings by Frank Donovan This is a medium size book on the history of the Vikings. It gives detail on how they spread and influenced areas from Russia to Sicily, Ireland to Iceland and Greenland and even the New World. The author gives just the right amount of detail. The book moves along nicely. It is not a comprehensive study, but a great introductory presentation. Voodoo River by Robert Crais This is about a detective from California who is hired by an actress to find out the truth about the family which released her for adoption. The detective is opposed by many in the town because there are secrets that they want to remain hidden. There is, in fact, a sinister side to the whole affair with people being killed and grossly illegal actions taking place. The dialog of the detective is a bit smart alecky, and the villains are stereotypes, but if one is in the mood for some light reading, it is fine. Tapestry of Spies by Stephen Hunter This is a story of an MI6 agent who is searching for a Soviet spy, an ex-Cambridge alumnus who is fighting for the communists in Spain. It was a time when Britain was more concerned in fighting communism than fascism, something that changed very rapidly in the coming years. There is the normal account of fighting and intrigue, but the author knows how to give twists and turns that one would not have expected. It was quite good. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, October 11, 2021

Montreal - San Antonio

October 11, 2021 Peace and Good, I finished the extraordinary chapter in Canada where things went very, very well. Then on Saturday I went to visit a summer camp which the friars run about 200 km outside of Ottawa. They open it up for Polish people, and it is well used. It is about four hours each from Montreal and Toronto. Yesterday I flew into San Antonio. Travel is tough, but I was very glad I was not flying Southwest this time due to all of the cancellations. I went from 60 to 90 degrees. The center at which we are meeting this week is beautiful, about a 20 minute walk from our friary. After this meeting I will head back to Rome. That will be this coming Tuesday. I finished some books: Lexington and Concord by Hourly History This is a short account of the battles of Lexington and Concord. It gives a sufficient amount of background information about what led to this battles. There is not a lot of depth in the account, but that is not the intend of books by this publisher. Heart of a Dog by Mikail Bulgakov This is a strange account of two doctors in 1924 in Moscow, which had only shortly before become Communist, who are working with animal parts transplanted into human beings to treat various illnesses. They are considered to be brilliant. One day they find a stray dog whom they take home, and shortly afterward transplant the testes and adrenal glands of a criminal who died shortly before into the dog. It becomes more and more human, but it also shares in many of the tendencies toward dishonesty and criminality of the human donor. To save matters, they eventually take out the human parts and transplant the dogs original organs back in it. It returns to a state of happiness as it lives a contented life in their house. The story is almost a cross between The Island of Doctor Moreau and Young Frankenstein. Trade in the Ancient World by Charles River Editors This short book deals with the growth and extent of trade in the ancient world (especially the Mediterranean world). It speaks of trade in copper and tin, oil and wine, wheat, precious metals, spices and amber. It deals with shifts in the currents of trade due to political circumstances. It is not an exhaustive treatment, but a good first look at the topic. The Miami by Charles River Editors The Miami were a tribe of native Americans living in the Ohio and Kentucky area. They were caught up in the various Anglo wars (French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War) and suffered as a result. Most of them were deported to reservations to the west of the Mississippi during the presidency of Andrew Jackson. The Slave Ship: A Human History by Marcus Rediker This is a rending account of the slave trade as seen from the slave ship itself. It speaks of the misery of the slave trade as well as the time that slaves spent on what was called the middle passage. Many of them died of disease and mistreatment. All of them were horrified at their dislocation and dehumanization. The author also treats of the horrible treatment of the crews of those ships. The end of the book also speaks of the campaign to end the slave trade in Great Britain (which then served as a bastion to effect an end to the trade in the Atlantic). The Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty This is an interesting novel set in Northern Ireland during the days of the hunger strikers (Catholics in prison who starved themselves to death to fight for the right to be treated as combatants and not as criminals). There has been a couple of murders of homosexual men by what appears to be a serial murderer. A Catholic constable in the province’s police force investigates the crimes and others, eventually discovering a rather unpleasant surprise. Drunken Fireworks by Stephen King This is a very comical novella on a dissolute family who live their summers at a resort lake in Maine. Their cottage is across the lake from a wealthy Italian family from Providence, Rhode Island. Almost by accident, they start a contest as to who can explode the better fireworks for the celebration of the Fourth of July. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Ellicott City, Md - Montreal

October 3, 2021 I returned home from Ocean City on Sunday, a week ago. This week I worked with one of the staff for the Companions of St. Anthony, Reilly, to tape a number of presentations (a Thanksgiving Day Triduum, short overviews of the readings for Advent, a number of Psalms). Yesterday I flew to Montreal. Travelling is tough these days, but this one was not too bad. The Canadian passport control has become much better and I sailed through it. They do have covid tests upon arrival for random travellers, but I was not chosen. This morning I had Mass in English at one of our parishes here. It was nice, and the pastor prepared a special lunch for me with his staff. Tomorrow we celebrate St. Francis Day, and then on Tuesday we begin the extraordinary chapter for the Canadian custody (whose mother province is the Polish province in Gdansk). The weather here is cool and cloudy, but not all that bad. I finished some reading: Agatha Christi by Hourly History This is a short biography of the famous British detective novelist (Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, etc.). What comes across is a quite traditional woman who started writing out of necessity (financial), and who developed it into an art form, or at least a home industry. She was twice married (her first husband having abandoned her, her second being a famous archaeologist). She never really treated her daughter with as much care and affection as she needed. Yet, she proved to be a remarkable author of works that entertained millions over the years (as well as being a playwright). The Dillinger Days by John Toland This is an account of the criminal career of John Dillinger and the other criminal gangs during the 20’s and 30’s. The book is well written, speaking of Dillinger’s decisions and motivations. He was not as bloodthirsty as others such as Pretty Boy Floyd (a clear psychopath), but he did use violence when he wanted to rob anyone or get away from pursuing foes. John Toland is a good author, having written a number of books on war events. A History of India by Michael Fisher This is a teaching company course on India (understood in the larger sense of the word, the entire Indian subcontinent). It deals with everything from the most ancient evidence of civilization to the modern problems in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. The author is good at making difficult topics understandable. He gives both historic and cultural information, including the topic of the two major religions in India, Hindu and Islam, as well as other minority religions such as the Jains, Sikhs, Christians, Jews, etc. It is a course well worth investigating. Emperor Hirohito by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of the controversial emperor of Japan (controversial for his role in World War II). The author shows that Hirohito was neither a puppet of the military leaders, nor a vicious manipulator and autocrat. The truth is somewhere in the middle. After the Second World War he played a more symbolic role in governing, not unlike that of the Queen of Great Britain. Death at Sea by Andrea Camilleri This is a series of short stories concerning the investigations of a Sicilian police investigator. There is a pleasant tone in the book, informal and humorous. This is the first of Camilleri’s books that I have read (in English, translated from Italian). He deals with some of the uncomfortable topics of Sicilian life, such as the influence of the Mafia, the corrupt government practices, the role of the rich and the plight of the poor. The investigator comes across as human. Brother Odd by Dean Koontz This is one of the seven books that Koontz wrote on Odd Thomas, a fry cook from a desert town in California who is gifted/plagued by being able to see ghosts who appear to him to intervene on their behalf (to solve the case of their deaths, to help them let go and enter their eternal fate, etc.). In this volume, Odd travels to a Benedictine monastery to seek peace of mind after the traumatic events of his life. Instead, he must solve a very strange case there in order to save the lives of the Benedictine monks and sisters, and especially of the special needs children who are in their care. Italy and her Invaders by Stanley Leathes This is an academic paper (Cambridge University Press) on the invasions of Italy during the 15th and 16th centuries. It is all but unreadable for the amount of detail and the shifting alliances and fates of the various invaders, e.g. Spain, France, the Holy Roman Empire) plus of the Italian powers (Venice, the Papacy, Naples, Milan, Florence, etc.). Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Ocean City, Maryland

September 25, 2021 Peace and Good, I have spent the week at the shore this past week. It has been a very restful time. There is something about the sound of the waves that calms me almost immediately. I finished a couple of projects in these days (including a long translation from Italian to English), but overall I had lots of time to read books and listen to them. The weather has been not all that bad. Even Thursday, which was supposed to be stormy, turned out quite well. I passed a CVS on my daily walks, and decided this was a good time to get my flu shot and my shingles vaccine. The Minute Clinic is a great idea. It makes it so conveninet to get this small things done, and the nurse practioner was tremendous in her care. I finish my vacation tomorrow and will head back to Ellicott City. This week I will dedicate especially to doing some filming for segments for the Companions of St. Anthony. I finished some reading: Canaletto by Delphi Classics This is a beautiful presentation of the Venetian artist whose works include both scenes of the canals of Venice and various British scenes (where he resided for a while). The academic background in minimal, but sufficient. The amount of detail in each of his painting is incredible. America’s Forgotten Wars by Charles River Editors This is an overview of various internal difficulties and external wars that America fought but which are largely forgotten today, e.g. the Philippine rebellion after the Spanish American War, a rebellion of Mexican-Americans after the Mexican American War, the Whiskey Rebellion, the war against the Barbary Pirates, etc. Egyptian Mythology by Matt Clayton This is an overview of the major gods of the Egyptian pantheon. It deals with the evolution of their cult, of their representation in art, of their centers of worship, of their influence in later versions of the Egyptian (and other) religion. The Varangian Guard by Charles River Editors The Varangian Guard were a personal body guard of the Byzantine Emperor. Originally they were from the Russ, being descendants of Scandinavian settlers in the Ukraine and Russia, and later were mostly English soldiers. In general, they defended the reigning emperor, although toward the end of their role they began to play king makers themselves. They were so ferocious that, at times, they were sent into battle against the enemies of the empire, including Muslims, Bulgarians, and invading barbarians. The Kingdom of Kush by Captivating History This is a short history of the kingdom of Kush, what we today would call the Sudan. It gives a great amount of information on the cultural links and discontinuities with Egypt during its history. The author shows Kush to be a culture which had a value for its own achievements. The Great Fire of Rome by Stephen Dando-Collins This is a short account of what happened during the great fire of Rome. It investigates the theory that Nero was behind it all. It deals with the conditions of living in Rome before and after the fire. It also speaks of the scapegoats who suffered after the fire, chosen to deflect the attention from Nero (whether he was guilty or not). Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Rome - Baltimore - Ocean City

September 19, 2021 Peace and Good, I flew in from Rome this past Sunday. Things are getting a bit easier, or maybe I am just getting used to the craziness of travel these days. On Monday evening our province began its extraordinary chapter at the Maratine Center in Baltimore. It was good to see all the friars who were present. We were talking about our pastoral plan for the next few years. Wednesday morning I had a bit of a shock. I got an email from Rome that our Minister General and three other friars tested positive for covid. I immediately left the chapter and had myself tested. By 11 that morning, I was shown to be negative. I had been tested before I left Rome, and I had not been in the presence of three of the four positive friars for at least five days before Wednesday, but it was still a shock. I am now in Ocean City at an appartment owned by the friars. I love listening to the waves. Just a couple of minutes of that and I feel all the tension melt off. The only downside is that these days there is a motorcycle rally in Ocean City until today. Their cycles are loud, loud, loud. I think they adjust them to be louder. They leave today, which will make the town much quieter. I finished some books: Mother Teresa: Come be my Light by Brian Kolodiejchuk This is a beautiful collection of letters and remanences of Mother Theresa of Calcutta. The major topic is the spiritual darkness from which she suffered for most of her life in the Missionaries of Charity. She came to understand that this was a sharing in the emptiness that Jesus suffered on the cross, as well as the emptiness that so many people experience in their own sufferings. He goal in life was to help respond to the thirst from which so many people suffer. Mary Todd Lincoln by Hourly History This is a short account of the story of the wife of Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln. A very ambitious woman who, unusually for her days, dabbled in politics, Mary Todd is presented as a grasper and someone who tried to live above her status. She eventually lost her senses, even being committed to a mental hospital by her son. She was not the nicest person, but she also lived a life that was filled with tragedy. Colombia and Panama by Joseph Stromberg This is part of a series on various countries of the world offered by Audible. This volume offers an overview of the states of Colombia and Panama from colonial days to the present. The presentation is not terribly academic, but it does give a good amount of useful information. After the Quake by Haruki Marakami This is a series of stories concerning people in Japan after the terrible earthquake in Kobe. It deals with situation in their own lives, but which have an impact on the people around them. The stories include good, heartwarming accounts, Buddhist philosophy stories, and even a bit of science fiction. The Fall of Troy by Peter Ackroyd This is a novel about a boisterous German archaeologist and his Greek wife who excavate the ruins of Troy. Herr Oberman has a tendency to look only for the treasures, and he effectively does great damage to anything else in his way. He is so obsessed with his theories that he is willing to harm anyone else who gets in the way. The Sicilian Vespers Wars by Charles River Editors This is the story of the rebellion of the people of Sicily against the occupying French authorities, and then of the series of wars that were fought with France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and the Papacy in regard to the crown of Naples and Sicily (at times united and at times treated individually). Saint Odd by Dean Koontz This is the last in the series of the Odd Thomas books. Odd is a fry cook in a desert town in California who can see and help ghosts. In this volume, he must sabotage a plot to destroy his home town by a band of Satanists who know of his power and want to create mayhem. Odd come across as an honest, kind and generous young man who only desires to be with his beloved Stormy who died in the first volume of the series. Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar This is a fascinating story about a young Indian American woman who is looking for the perfect man. She is in constant contact with an over-protective mother in India. She suspects that the young man her daughter finds is dangerous, somehow associated with another man who was violent with her when she was a young woman. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Saturday, September 11, 2021


September 11, 2021 Peace and Good, I have been in Rome this past week, but at our theological faculty where we were holding a seminar for the new officials of our provinces and custodies. It was good to meet the newest ones, and to see some old friends. I have also been involved in translating from Italian into English the document we call Franciscan Discipleship. This is the manual on formation (initial and continuing). It is about 75 pages in English. I have finished the first draft and now must go through it a couple of times to edit it. Whenever one is translating, he leaves vestiges of the original language and I have to work that our. I will be flying to the States tomorrow and will be travelling there and in Canada for almost a month. I have finished some reading: Darwin and the Origin of the Species by Josephine Bailey This is a short, well-done biography of the naturalist who wrote the book which proposed the survival of the fittest and evolution, Charles Darwin. The book gives a good personal biography as well as an overview of the production of his book and the eventual debate about its accuracy in later years, including how this theory has influenced scientific (and religious) reaction to the present. The Pied Piper by Harold Schecht This is the story of a young man in Tucson, Arizona who gathers other young people around himself and who murders three young women. He was a strange man who dressed in an outlandish manner, but who nevertheless had a magnetic appeal over a small group of young people, much as the pied piper of the famous fairy tale. The Persian Gulf States by Wendy McElroy and Sheldon Richman This is a short presentation by Audible Original Books on the history of the nations which surround the Persian Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. The book covers the ancient era of these areas, their status under colonial rule, and their present difficulties, especially since the religious revolution in Iran. The Original Watergate Stories by the Washington Post This is an amalgam of the articles that appeared in the Washington Post concerning Watergate from the days right after the break-in until the resignation of President Nixon. It is fascinating to hear the discoveries unroll as the press obtained a clearer and clearer idea of what was actually going on, especially by following the advice of their informant Deep Throat that they “follow the money.” The Robertson Panel by Charles River Editors This is a short presentation on a commission that was established to study the UFO phenomenon. The material that the panel was given was limited, and their findings were superficial. The CIA went out of its way to hamper any serious investigation of the phenomenon, discrediting anyone who made a serious report of something in this regard. St. Brigid of Kildare by Charles River Editors At the beginning of this short biography, I was a bit nervous because the author went into the etymology of St. Bridgid’s name, which was that of a Celtic goddess. But the majority of the book is an honest study of what is accurately known about the saint, as well as some the legends that surround her and the cult of devotion that has developed over the ages. It is quite good. The Magyars by Charles River Editors This is a study of the Central Asian nomadic tribe which came to settle in the plains of central Europe and who slowly became the Hungarians. They started out in their present location as raiders of their surrounding nations, but they eventually settled down and became more and more Europeanized and a bulwark against the invasion of the Turks during the late Middle Ages. The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy This is the story of the gradual death of a man who serves in the Russian bureaucracy. He has a small accident which is the beginning of his decline. As he grows more ill, it is impossible for him to communicate his fears to his own family who slowly become outsiders to him, intruders who are just waiting for him to die and get it over with. The pace of the book is typical of Tolstoy, but the matter dealt with is profound and creates true pathos in the reader. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, September 5, 2021


September 6, 2021 Peace and Good, This past week we met in definitory. During the week, we end up discussing events and needs from all over the world. Sometimes it makes your head spin when you have talked about situations in North America, Africa and Asia, all within a couple of hours. I have been translating a big project, a manual called Franciscan Discipleship (64 pages) over these past couple of weeks. I should finish the first draft this week, which puts me a bit ahead of schedule. I will be attending another meeting all this week. It is for the new provincials and secretaries of the provinces who were elected in this past year. We will be conducting this at the Seraphicum, our house of theology at the edge of the city. The weather has been warm. The European Community has just downgraded the status of the US again, making it a bit more difficult to enter. I am heading to the States this Sunday which will not be a problem, but coming back might be a bit tricky. I finished some reading: Great Masters: Tchaikovsky: His Life and Music by Robert Greenberg This is a Teaching Company course on the life and music of the great 19th century Russian composer Tchaikovsky. His personal life was strange. He married one of his groupies, but all but had a nervous breakdown when he moved in with her because he was gay and could not live as a heterosexual. He was also a pedophile who was forced to commit suicide because he had an affair with the son of a high ranking member of the royalty. His music well illustrates his profound psychological turmoil, as Greenberg well illustrates. Peoples and Cultures of the World by Edward Fisher This is a series of lectures by an anthropologist who gives some insights into the organization of various cultures and their economic systems. The professor goes here and there, from the Amazon to Polynesia to the US. Some of the insights are very valuable, others less so. The Korean Woman by John Altman This is the story of a North Korean woman who has been trained by the secret services of that country to be a sleeper spy in the United States. At the same time, there is an American secret service agent who is trying to launch a group of missiles against North Korea to catch them unprepared (in spite of the logical consequences to the South). The story is well developed. Blood Territory by Mark Whittaker This is the story of an investigator who travels to the northern territory of Australia to try to determine who had murdered a young man there. The police had arrested one of his former best friends and imprisoned him. Yet, there are other suspects, including the police themselves for the man murdered had submitted a lawsuit against the police for beating him up. Accidental Presidents by Jared Cohen This is the story of the various vice presidents who had taken over the presidency when their predecessors died in office (whether by illness or assassination). Some of them proved to be quite successful, e.g. Harry Truman. Others were non-entities who had been chosen for their office for political reasons. Probably the most successful of all had been Theodore Roosevelt who became president when McKinley had been killed in Buffalo, NY. This is a good book in the tradition of David McCullough. Odd Thomas: You are Destined to be Together Forever by Dean Koontz This is a novella in the Odd Thomas tradition. He is a fry cook in a California village who can see ghosts who come to him so that he might intervene on their behalf. The writing is great, and the reader is even better. Odd comes across as a decent young man who is doing the best he can in bewildering circumstances. The Seven Story Mountain by Thomas Merton This is the book by Merton which has been compared with St. Augustine’s Confessions. It is the autobiographical story of how he went from a Bohemian family with no beliefs to a Trappist Monastery. It is written in Thomistic language so I found its terminology a bit dates, but overall it presents a good story of how Merton abandoned a meaningless life for something which responded to his deepest hunger. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, August 29, 2021


August 29, 2021 Peace and Good There is only one city mentioned above, and that is a miracle. I am here in Rome for a few weeks. It is hot, but not as hot as it was earlier in the season. This is the end of the August holidays, when everyone who can runs off to the shore or the mountains. I have been translating a document which is around 64 pages long on formation. It is a big project, but I have been chipping away at it, doing about 2,000 words each day. I have til the end of September to finish it. Rome has a lot of tourists, but very few Americans. They are mostly Italians, although I have heard a bit of French and German in the streets. They have established a green passport for vaccinations. If you don't have it, you can eat outside but cannot enter restaurants, museums, offices, etc. I don't have it (even though I am fully vaccinated), but I don't really need it because I am pretty much being a home body in these days. I finished some reading: The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling These are a set of folk tales told to young witches along with an extended commentary supposedly produced by Professor Dumbledore, the head master of Hogwarts, the school where Harry Potter studied. The Ottoman Conquest by JB Bury This is a comprehensive essay in the collection of Cambridge History on the conquests of the Ottoman empire in the 15th and 16th centuries. The writing style is technical and filled with so much detail that it is not really a pleasant read, but it is nevertheless informative. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough All of McCullough’s books are masterpieces, and this is no exception. It deals with the lives and careers of the Wright brothers, the inventors of the first motored, manned airplane. The Wright brothers come across as honest and humble Midwesterners who applied their lives and talents to the project of flying. They were the sons of a Protestant bishop. Their sister, Katharine, played a significant role in their lives and that of their father. By the end of the book, one feels that one has a good grasp of who they were and what their reputation was in their own times. The Royal Art of Poison by Eleanor Herman This is an overview of the use of poison throughout the years. Herman examines old cases and tries to determine whether the symptoms and deaths of those involved were due to natural factors or to actual poisoning. The Falklands War by Hourly History This is a short history of the war between Argentina and Great Britain in 1982 for the possession of these islands in the South Atlantic. Their possession had gone back and forth over the years, but by the 20th century almost all of its inhabitants were British who strongly wanted to stay in possession of the British. Their major industry was sheep pasturing, although there seems to be deposits of oil and natural gas in their coastal waters. The Science of Sci-Fi by Erin Macdonald This was a very entertaining course from the Teaching Company (although one of the free courses I obtained from Audible) concerning scientific concepts and their use and misuse in science fiction books, films and programs. The presenter has a great sense of humor, and she is able to present the material (which can be very complicated) in an understandable manner. The Ends of the World by Peter Brennen This is a book that deals with evidence found in the rock strata concerning the five earlier extinctions of much of the life upon the earth, and which then extrapolates the lessons to be learned from those events and applies them to our present circumstances. The style of the writing is inviting and not overly technical, and I found the author honest in his use of scientific facts. The Doolittle Raid by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the raid led by James Doolittle against Tokyo and other cities in April of 1942. The president and the military leaders were desperate to strike a blow against Japan in the months following the attack on Pearl Harbor. The arranged for land planes to take off from an aircraft carrier, drop their bombs, and continue on to China where most of them crash landed. In one sense, the attack was a woeful failure, for they did relatively little damage. However, the trauma of the capital being attacked led to the imprudent attack on Midway Island in which four Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk, changing the course of the war. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, August 20, 2021

London - Rome - Assisi - Rome

August 21, 2021 Peace and Good, I hope you are all enjoying your summer. I finished my two weeks in London, during which I didn't see the sun more than five minutes. Travelling to Rome is itself no difficulty, but the paperwork is crazy. I had to fill out three internet forms, and another two forms on the plane and at Rome airport (the paper forms saying the same thing I had already registered on the internet forms). Rome is warm, but the friars tell me that it is much cooler than it has been in these days, with temperatures up to 100. August is always a slow, hot time, with many Romans fleeing to the beach or the mountains to get away from the heat. Many restaurants even close for a few weeks during this time of year. I went up to Assisi for a few meetings on Thursday and came back yesterday. The trains are not all that full yet, but when I got to Assisi I was shocked at the number of people visiting the Basilica. It is like all the Americans who flew when it was finally a bit safer. The Italians decided to get out of their houses and see a bit of their own country. The friars had to let people into the Basilica in batches, and the line waiting to get in had several hundred people. I will be in Rome until mid-September when I will fly back to Baltimore for our extraordinary chapter. I finished some reading: Sekigahara and Shiroyama by Charles River Editors This is the story of two major battles that involve thee Samurai. The first battle is that in which many of the war lords of Japan were defeated and one Samurai master is able to unify the kingdom. While the emperor was theoretically the leader of the country, he was only a figurehead. This situation lasted several centuries. Then, the second battle took place after the opening of the kingdom to outsiders. It was a battle between the newly organized army of the Meiji emperor and the rebellion led by the old and now disempowered Samurai. Stalingrad by Captivating History This is a short account of the siege of Stalingrad and the defeat of the German and allied forces by the Soviets. Oddly, most of the book is spent on background material, and relatively little on its main topic, that particular battle. It nevertheless is worth reading. African Mythologies by Captivating History This is only a short collection of various African myths (from all over the continent), but I found it fascinating. We rarely hear stories like this. I noticed that many of the stories were in praise of a figure called the trickster, someone who knows how to survive in the midst of difficult circumstances. Like all myths, the good tend to win and the bad tend to be punished, but that is not always true in these stories. The Spirit of the Liturgy by Romano Guardini This is a highly philosophical review of the theory behind the liturgy. It is well done, but it certainly takes considerable reflection in order to understand and apply what he is saying. He finds a balance between overly spiritualizing the liturgy and making it too mundane. Henry IV: the Righteous King by Ian Mortimer This is a rather long, but very good book on Henry IV who overthrew Richard II, and whose son was Henry V, the victor of Agincourt. He had tremendous difficulties with rebellions in his reign and attacks in Wales, Scotland and France. He had to fight his own parliament to receive adequate funds for his needs and his campaigns, and then was attacked by them for not doing enough. The author presents him as an honest, religious man who did the best he could in the midst of overwhelming difficulties. Frederick Chopin by Hourly History This is a short biography of the famous Polish composer who spent most of his adult life in France. He was the lover of George Sands (despite the name, a woman). He eventually died of tuberculosis. He was a rather depressed character. He deeply loved his native Poland, but once he left it he never returned there. He needed money so now and then he would give concerts, but he suffered from a paralyzing tendency to stage fright. Mercia by Captivating History This is a rather complicated history of this kingdom in the center of England during the late Dark Ages, just before the invasion of the Danes and the establishment of the kingdom of England by Alfred the Great. The names are impossible and often so similar that reading this short work is torture. Have a good week. fr. Jude

Friday, August 13, 2021


August 12, 2021 Peace and Good, I have been in Great Britain since the beginning of the month, and will only be leaving here on the 17th. This week I took a quick trip to our friary in Barton, which is just outside of Manchester (only a couple of hours by train from London). I have been meeting with friars and talking. There is no special agenda, just giving the friars a chance to share with me whatever they would like. This is especially important given how closed we were during the pandemic. The weather has been miserable. There has not been one sunny day since I arrived. It has rained, at least for a while, every single day. I have been helping out a bit in our parish (very, very small) near our custodial office in London. It is good to have Mass with the people. That is something I don't often get when I am in Rome. The regulations concerning mask wearing have been somewhat lifted here, but many people are still wearing it inside of stores, and almost every on mass transit. A good number of people still wear them outside. I finished some reading: Coal: A Human History by Barbara Freese This is a history of the use of coal from the earliest days of its exploitation in China and England to the present. The author deals with its mining, the pollution it causes, the problem of Carbon Dioxide and Sulphur Monoxide, etc. She speaks of its present use to generate electricity, especially in the US and China. The work is well presented, and somewhat balanced in its approach. A History of India by Michael Fisher This is a series of lectures from the Teaching Company that runs from prehistoric times to the present day. It speaks of the Indian subcontinent, meaning the modern states of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. It speaks of the influence of the Hindu, Muslim and other faiths (e.g. Christianity, Jainism, Sikes, etc.). It deals with colonialization and the fight to obtain independence. The courses are very informative and well done. Nicholas II by Captivating History This is a short biography of the tragic figure of the last czar of Russia and his family. It deals with his desire to retain an autocratic system even when history was moving against that tendency. Of course, it also deals with the influence of Rasputin. Toussaint L’Ouverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines by Charles River Editors This short work is an overview of the lives and careers of two of the leaders of the Haitian Revolution at the beginning of the 19th century. The led what turned out to be an incredibly violent revolution, a reaction to an incredibly violent exercise of slavery. Toussaint comes across as a stabilizing factor, while Dessalines is much more violent and ruthless. Lincoln’s Last Trial by Dan Abrams and David Fisher This is the story of how Lincoln and Stephen Logan defended a young man on a charge of murder. He had been attacked by another man from the village along with his brother, and the much smaller young man defended himself with a knife, killing the man attacking him. The trial is one of the first cases to have a full transcript, produced by Robert Hitt. Lincoln is shown as clever, wise, personable and brilliant in his presentation. The book is very good. Nat Turner by Charles River Editors This is the story of a slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831 led by a man named Nat Turner. It was especially brutal, both for what the slaves did to the whites and the revenge that the whites enacted upon the slaves. It was the nightmare of the slave owning class for the next decades. The Kill Room by Jeffery Deaver This is one of the Lincoln Rhymes books. The paraplegic forensic investigator is called to investigate the assassination of an anti-American activist in the Bahama Islands. The assassin is from an obscure intelligence agency whose task is to kill dangerous enemies of the US. The book is filled with twists and turns. I especially like these books because they involve flawed characters, including Lincoln Rhymes. Fly Girls by Keith O’Brien This is an account of the role of the US women who were the pioneers of flight in the 1920’s and the 1930’s. This includes Amelia Earhart as well as other female flyers who faced terrible prejudice. This was a dangerous time to fly, and not a few women and men died in plane crashes in these days. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, August 2, 2021

Los Angeles - Ellicott City - London

August 2, 2021 The Feast of the Portiuncula Peace and Good, I flew out from LA to Baltimore so that I could participate in the simple profession and solemn profession of vows of some of our friars (four for simply profession and three for solemns). The simple profession took place in the chapel at our friary in Ellicott City, while the solemn profession was in the local church, St. Louis, in Clarksville. Both were beautiful. The solemn profession had a choir from Togo, since one of those professing was born there. After communion they played a vibrant song that had people dancing in the ailes. I was very moved. I have always felt an attraction to the African form of the liturgy which is filled with life and emotion. I flew from Dulles to London on Saturday. The flight was good. There was a considerable amount of paperwork to fill out before getting on the flight, but checking in at Washington and passing through passport control in London was easy. Today Great Britain declared that one who comes from the States does not have to quarantine any more. I had to take another covid test this morning, but that is all. Masks are not required, but they are recommended on public transport. The weather here the past couple of days was typical London - cool and rainy. Mark Twain once said that the worst winter he ever lived through was a July in London. Today, the sun has come out and it is really pleasant. I finished some reading: The Quiet Game by Greg Iles This is a story set in Natchez where a former district attorney and now an author, Penn Cage, arrives in his home town. He mentions an old murder of a black man many years before which she then puts in her newspaper. This begins a frightening series of events as the Penn Cage tries to solve the murder mystery (which seems to have been a racial crime). In the process, he and his family face incredible danger. The Aeneid of Virgil by Elizabeth Vandiver This was a twelve lecture course on the Aeneid by Virgil. This was an epic poem written toward the beginning of the reign of Augustus to give a mythic origin story for the now powerful Roman Empire. Vandiver is very good at presenting the material and the background. It is remarkable that Virgil actually wanted the text of the epic to be burned because he was dying before he could put the finishing touches on it. Augustus refused to do this, saving this masterpiece for Rome and for us. Megan Phelps-Roper by Audible Interviews This is an interview of a member of Westborough Baptist Church who left the Church and then wrote about her experience. This is the church which picketed at funerals, demonstrated at other Church functions to provoke others to violence so that they might sue them, etc. She explains why people interpreted scripture the way they did and how they actually thought that what they were doing was for other people’s benefit. Ugarit by Charles River Editors This short presentation is one of the better Charles River Editors productions. Ugarit was a city in the Mideast which was a trading center between Mesopotamia and Egypt and Greece. The population was Semitic. The ruins where not discovered until the 20th century. Among the important finds was a library of thousands of clay tablets written in a primitive cuneiform alphabet. Gideon’s Sword by Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston Child and Preston are some of my favorite authors. They have written a long series of stories about a FBI inspector named Pendergast. This volume is part of another series. This one deals with a company that performs projects for the government and others which spies would normally do. The greatest tool of the company is a very intricate system of social manipulation and evaluation. In this book, Gideon, who has a condition that will kill him within a year, is sent out to discover the secrets of a Chinese scientist who was coming to the US. Sherman makes Georgia Howl by Charles River Editors This is the account of one of the most controversial actions of the Union army during the war. It speaks of Sherman’s conquest and destruction of the city of Atlanta, and then his march to the sea in which he left a path of destruction. He is still despised in the south for what he did. The excuse on the part of Sherman was that he had to destroy the backers of the rebellion, including their manufacturing and capacity to provide food for those who were fighting. The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner This is a fictional biography of Queen Juana la Loca, Juana the mad. The author speaks of her marriage to a Hapsburg heir who turns out to be unfaithful and power hungry. He treats her badly in many ways. She eventually poisons him. Her reign was clouded by the fact that Ferdinand (the husband of Isabella) closed her away and ruled in her stead. The author prefers to speak of her as totally innocent and manipulated by the men around her. She avoids speaking of the mental illness of some sort that does seem to have affected her. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, July 23, 2021

Chicago - Los Angeles

July 23, 2021 Peace and Good, I spent about five days in Chicago visiting the friars and also participating in a friars' day (for the celebration of the patronal saint of the province, St. Bonaventure) and the simple profession of one of the friars. On Saturday I flew out to Los Angeles. I am staying in our parish in Hermosa Beach, about a half of a mile from the sea. It is a beautiful area, and the weather has been very nice. From Monday til yesterday I was with the friars of the province for their extraordinary chapter in Malibu. We staying at the retreat house run by the OFM Franciscan Friars. It has a beautiful view of the ocean, and is right next door to the home of Dick Van Dyke. The meeting went extremely well. There was a great spirit among the friars. The most important thing approved was the raising of the mission in Vietnam from the category of a delegation to that of a custody. It is now just below the level of a province. The mission has been going for about 18 years, and they have made incredible progress. We are very happy that they are now in this higher category which gives them quite a bit more autonomy. The only down side of my visit here is that LA county has reinstituted the requirement for masks when indoors. The covid rate is rising rapidly here. I will be here until Tuesday when I fly out to Baltimore for a couple more celebrations. Then a week from today I will heading over to London for a couple of weeks. I have finished some reading: Coney Island by Charles River Editors This is the story of the resort island which served the people of New York for so many decades. It deals with its low life origin, and then its transformation into a center of hotels and amusement parks. It was there that the hot dog was invented and named. This was also the location of the first Nathan’s red hots. The island suffered in the era in which travel became so much easier with the family car (and therefore freedom from the trains that would carry people to Coney Island. Washington’s Immortals: the Untold Story of an Elite Regiment that Changed the Course of the Revolution by Patrick O’Donnell This is the story of an elite group of soldiers from Maryland who accompanied the revolutionary forces from the early days of the revolution to the end of the war. They arrived in time for the battles in the New York area. They were always dependable forces for Washington throughout the war. The history is well done. LBJ in 1968 by Kyle Longley This is an account of the last hellish year for the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. Among the difficulties he faced were the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, the capture of the ship Pueblo by North Korea, the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviets and their allies, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy, etc. The book presents the story in a sympathetic but not fawning manner. The author admits Johnson’s flaws, e.g. this stubbornness and refusal to admit having made mistakes, but he also presents him as a good leader who was most of all dedicated to the poor and downtrodden of society. A Different Drummer by Michael Deaver This is a fawning account of Ronald Reagan and his political career. Deaver was an advisor to Reagan beginning with his time as governor of California. There were ups and downs in the relationship. After Deaver’s last resignation, he formed a lobbying group that got him into trouble with the law. But his overall view of the Reagans, both Ronald and Nancy, is highly favorable. How Winston Churchill Changed the World by Michael Shelden This is a series of twelve lectures on the career of Winston Churchill from his early days in the military and politics up to his death at a very advanced age. The professor presenting these lectures sees Churchill as the right man at the right time. He recognizes his shortfalls, but also sees him as a prophetic figure in his ability to foresee the danger of the rise of the Nazis in Germany. The presentation is very favorable to Churchill. The Mahdist War by Hourly History This is the story of an Islamist rebellion in the Sudan that was fought against the forces of Egypt (and behind them Great Britain) and which was also a reform movement to purify the practices of Islam. The leader of the movement called himself a Mahdi, a messianic figure in Islam. When he died, much of what he did fell apart. Geronimo by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of the famous Native American chief from the US Southwest (as well as Mexico). It especially deals with his capture and the way he was treated after that. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Rome - Chicago

July 13, 2021 Peace and Good, We finished out very long definitory last Friday. We had to examine two important documents in the course of the meeting, and it went quite well. On Sunday I flew to Chicago. I will be here until Saturday when I head out to Los Angeles. I am here just to be with the friars, and to meet the new novices. I am playing these days by ear. Fortunately, Thursday, which is the day of the patron saint of this province, St. Bonaventure, there will be a friars' day at Marytown so I will get to see a number of the friars. I have also had the opportunity to speak with a number of friars one on one in these days, which is always good. Sometimes, my most important work is just done listening to what friars have to say. The weather here is very, very humid and overcast. It is not all that hot, but the humidity is very uncomfortable. Our house is located at the northern part of the city, right near the lake and Loyolla University. The flight here was long. May flights have been cancelled, so you have to take a round about route. I flew from Rome to Dallas, and from Dallas to Chicago. The trip is a bit better than before, and a little of the paperwork has disappeared. I finished some reading: The New World by Edward John Payne This is an essay that deals with the explorations in the New World and the predominant attitudes toward this universe. There are those who saw the new world as a paradise not yet destroyed by civilization (Montaigne), and those who thought that it would take great effort to make the new world a place where a decent person could live (Francis Bacon). As is true of all of these essays from the Cambridge series, it is very anglophilic. Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman I have read many, many of Tony Hillerman’s books, and this is one of the better ones. Joe Leaphorn, an officer in the Navaho Tribal Police, must investigate the murder of one young boy and the disappearance of another. The case involves Leaphorn learning more about the Zuni traditions, especially the Cochina figures which seem to be involved in this case. There are a number of twists and turns in the story which, while unusual, prove to be very believable. The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston This is the story of a mass murderer in the city of Florence, Italy, and the investigation performed by a newspaper reporter and the crime/thriller author, Douglas Preston. The murderer is killing couples in their cars after their trysts, and mutilating the young women. While the reporter and author seem to favor one solution, the local prosecutors choose a whole different path of inquiry and begin to prosecute the reporter and Preston for their beliefs. This book speaks about the diversity of Italian cultures, and also of the mess that their legal system has become. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley I had often heard of this book, and since Audible was offering it for free, I thought this might be a good time to listen to it. It tells of a dystopian future in which the only value is happiness, even if it is drug induced. A young man who seeks more in life is destroyed by the system. The book, published in 1932, still offers a good warning to an overly technological and overly systematized world. The Battle of Antietam by Captivating History This battle produced the bloodiest day of the Civil War. It was the clashing of the forces of the South led by Robert E. Lee, and those of the North led by the brilliant but reticent General McClennan. Neither of them fought all that well that particular day. That is especially true of the forces of the north which could have easily cut off and eliminated the southern army if they had only pursued it after the battle. Imitation of Christ by Tomas A Kempis This is a meditation book written in the 1400’s representing a spiritual movement in the Netherlands. Some of its insights are brilliant, but it also proves to be a bit Manichean (the belief that only the spiritual is good and the material is corrupt and evil). It was worth reading, but I am not sure that I would recommend to anyone in spiritual direction with me without warning that person of its one sided view of life. Artemis by Andrew Scott and Charles River Editors This is a short overview of the legends and liturgical hymns that honored Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt, the wild and chastity. The author includes many long passages from original sources which, while interesting at first, bog one down with much unnecessary information. It is not as well done as many of the other editions of the Charles River productions. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, July 5, 2021

Mesilla Park - Rome

July 5, 2021 Peace and Good, I returned to Rome last Monday. I was originally supposed to return the previous Saturday, but my flight was cancelled at the last minute (American Airlines). Travelling is beginning to get easier. I still had to fill out a long form to get back into Italy, but once that was done, there were no difficulties. It was the check in agent who gave me the heads up about the form, and I am grateful that she mentioned it (for otherwise I would not have been allowed to board the plane). The weather here in Rome is quite hot (although not as hot as parts of the States in these days). We began our definitory on Thursday, and will continue to at least this coming Thursday. Part of our time in these days is a meeting (in person for some, by zoom for others) with the presidents of the federations. That will take place each afternoon this week. I will be here in Rome until Sunday when I fly back to the States. This trip will involve Chicago, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and London. I finished some reading: White House Connection by Jack Higgins This is part of a long series on a group of anti-terrorist experts under the direct authority of the Prime Minister of Great Britain who work in collaboration with a similar unit under the authority of the president of the US. In this episode, they are investigating the assassination of a group of pro-IRA activists in the US and London by an unknown figure. The Repute and Reality of Being a Roman Emperor by OpenLearn This short course deals with some of the symbols and activities of the Roman Emperors to be respected and honored throughout the Roman empire. Ironically, the signs of homage to the emperor were often more elaborate in the provinces than in Rome itself. This includes the deification of the emperor during his own lifetime. The Battle on the Ice by Charles River Editors This is the story of the successful defense of some of the Russian city states against the invasion of troops from Germany and the Baltic area during the 13th century. The leader of the troops of Novgorod was the famous Alexander Nevsky. The Winter War by Captivating History This is the story of the invasion of Finland by the Soviet Union at the beginning of the Second World War. Although they were massively outnumbered, the Finns put up an incredible defense. The poor showing of the Soviet troops was one of the things that convinced Hitler to invade the Soviet Union in 1940. The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia This is easily one of the best books that I have read in a long time. It is the story of a family in Mexico around the time of World War I (with the pandemic of influenza at that time and the revolutionary governments). They adopt a child with a cleft pallet who has a miraculous union with nature, especially the bees. This is a translation into English from a Mexican author. I highly, highly recommend it. Duel with the Devil by Paul Collins and Mark Peckham This is the story of a murder trial in Manhattan around 1800. It is a true story, and what makes it fascinating are that two of the defense attorneys are Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. A young woman is found dead in a well which was dug by the Manhattan water company (run by Burr). A fellow boarder in her boarding house is accused. There are many twists and turns, along with a lot of background information. It is well presented. American Spring by Walter Borneman This is a book on the first months of the Revolutionary War, including especially the Lexington and Concord battle and the battle of Bunker Hill, along with the story of the Continental Congress held in Philadelphia. The characters are well presented, and there is a wealth of information. The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover by Anthony Summers This is a tell it all book on the life and career of J. Edgar Hoover. It goes into his hidden gay life style, his very questionable financial dealings, even with mobsters, his possible involvement with the assassination of JFK, his gathering of information on politicians to blackmail them, etc. I am not sure if it is all true, but if even a quarter of it is accurate, then this man was one of the most dangerous in the history of our country. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Atlanta - Louisville - Baltimore - Buffalo - El Paso (Mesilla Park, New Mexico)

June 24, 2021 Peace and Good As you can see by the title, I have been doing quite a bit of travelling in these days. Now that the covid pandemic is winding down, it is possible to visit the friars and others whom I have not seen for quite a while. The airports are incredibly busy in these days. I visited three of our friaries in Atlanta, and then went to Louisville (Mount St. Francis) which is the provincialate of Our Lady of Consolation Province. I was able to spend some good time with the provincial and the friars living there. While I was there, an artist who works in fabric, Penny Sisto, gave an exhibition. I was expecting some quilts, and the art that she displayed was breath-taking. Check our her site on the internet. I went to Baltimore for another doctor's appointment. The medicine I am taking for my heart can have side effects on the lungs, so I went to the Pulminologist. All is well. I got to go out with one of my classmates while I was there. I got to Buffalo and stayed with my brother and sister in law for a few days. Now I am in New Mexico at one of our retreat centers to be with the friars who are participating in a workshop for those who have been out of formation for less than five years. We have found that this time period is critical for the reinforcement of their vocation, so every year they meet to share some ideas (theirs and from others) on what is going on in their lives. Tomorrow I head back to Rome. A lot of the restrictions have been lifted in these days, so it will be good to see how things are going there. I finished some reading: Origins of Great Ancient Civilizations by Professor Kenneth Harl This is a series of lectures by the Teaching Company on various early civilizations of the ancient Mid-East. The professor gives good, accurate information in a pleasant way. This is one of the series from this company that I truly enjoyed. The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown by Claire Ridgway This is a book that goes into the accusations against, the trial and the execution of Anne Boleyn. The author is very much a defender of Boleyn, so she always evaluates the information in the best light possible for her. Yet, it does seem as if the death of Boleyn was a set-up, probably instigated by Henry VIII who had become bored of her, especially since she had not been able to bear him a male heir. Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom by Stephen Platt This is an account of the Taiping Rebellion which occurred in China about the same time as the American Civil War. Millions and millions of people were killed through execution or starvation or disease because of this event. It was led by a man who had heard Christian preachers and who identified himself as Jesus’ brother, the son of God. A lot of the book deals with Britain’s involvement in one form or another with the event. Yet, the author does manage to show a respectful treatment of the Chinese as well. Killing the SS by Bill O’Reilly This is typical of the series of Bill O’Reilly’s books on Jesus, Kennedy, etc. There is a lot of good information. At times, there are overt judgments on people or activities. A very large part of the book is on the hunt, arrest and trial of Adolph Eichmann, but there is also information about the hunt for other criminals as well. The famous Nazi Hunter Simon Wiesenthal, is not all that positive. He is presented as a publicity seeking, at times lying individual. Whirlwind by Barrett Tillman This is the story of the bombing campaign against Japan during World War II from the Doolittle Raid to the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The author is a staunch defender of what the bombers did all throughout the war. He is very honest about the shortcomings of various commanders and various techniques and of the interservice rivalry between the Army Air Corps (before the establishment of the Air Force) and the Navy fighters and bombers. Sky watching: Seeing and Understanding Cosmic Wonders by Alex Phillipenko This is a Teaching Company course on the various phenomena that one can detect in the day and night skies. It is taught be a professor who is incredibly enthused with his topic. He doesn’t always know how to dumb down the material so that those unacquainted with the material could still understand, but his joy and wonder at the topic makes up for that. Some of the topics include meteors, comets, aurora borealis, haloes around the sun and moon, the stars and constellations, etc. Have a good 4th of July and a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, June 9, 2021


June 9, 2021 Peace and Good, I have been in the Atlanta area since the 1st. We have three friaries in this area, one of which I had never seen before. The first friary I visited was in Columbus Georgia. It is about 2 hours southwest of Atlanta, on the Alabama border. We actually have three parishes there. One is a small African American parish, one a small Hispanic parish, and one a large Anglo/Hispanic parish with a grammar school and high school. All three are being run very, very well by the friars. The large parish also has a huge outreach to the poor (food, clothes, rental and utilities assistance, etc.). I was very impressed. The second friary I visited was in Jonesboro, just south of the city. It is an Anglo/African/African-American/Hispanic parish. I celebrated a couple of Masses there, which was great doing a bit of pastoral work. This was the first Sunday that they were wide open after the pandemic, and it was obvious that many people were coming back. The third friary, where I am now, is on the northeast side of Atlanta, Holy Cross Parish. It is Anglo/Hispanic. There are about 2700 registered families, but many of the Hispanics are not registered for various reasons. Yesterday I spend the morning on a zoom assembly for the friars in Canada. They have formed a new jurisdiction, and they are trying to get off the ground. Last week, on the 4th, I had another zoom meeting with the provincials of our federation. The zoom process is great, but it really tires one out after a couple of hours. Tomorrow I fly to Louisville where I will be for five days, just being available if any of the friars want to stop by and chat. I finished some reading: The History of Bourbon by Ken Albala This is a course from the Teaching Company. They have now joined with Audible, and the Audible company offers a series of free courses each month. This was one of them. The author is an expert on food and drinks at one of the universities. He speaks about the history of the making of bourbon and its popularity (or fall in popularity) in various eras. Greg Hurwitz by Audible Interviews In these two interviews, Hurwitz speak about his series, the Orphan X books. Even is orphan x, an orphan who was trained to be a killer. He escapes his minders and tries to put his life together while he is trying to right wrongs in society. The minders (and he doesn’t know who is behind them) try to eliminate him. He has to rely on a series of experts in various techniques to remain alive. The Rise of Communism by Professor Vejas Liulevicius This is a 12 lecture series on the beginnings of communism from the Teaching Company. The professor is very, very prepared, and his method of instruction is very good. While each lesson is packed with details and quotations, it is never overwhelming. I would recommend this course and others by him to anyone. Deadly Outbreaks by Alexandra Levitt This is a book that covers a series of outbreaks of mysterious illnesses that had to be investigated by the CDC over the years. They include hantavirus in the Southwest, Legionnaires’ Disease, an outbreak of Salmonella, etc. It is well written, and it shows the great difficulties that can be faced in trying to track down information and identify a cause for the various outbreaks. Forever Odd by Dean Koontz This is the second in the series about Odd Thomas. He is a fry cook in a desert California town who can see and help ghosts. Each of the volumes is an adventure in which he must defeat some of the forces of evil that attack him or his town or his friends. In this volume, he must rescue one of his friends who suffers from brittle bone disease for a mad enchantress and her minions. The English Sweating Sickness by Charles River Editors This is an account of a disease the periodically attacked England (and very few other areas) during the Tudor period. Henry VIII was deathly afraid of it, and even Anne Boleyn suffered from it. The book cannot fully identify exactly what the disease was, but it gives good information on how people reacted to it. 1861: the Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart This is one of the better historic books that I have read in a long time. The author deals with the first year of the war, but he also gives a good treatment to many of the people involved in the action and sociological background to why things happened the way they did. Although I have read quite a bit on the Civil War, there were a number of things that I had never heard about before. The style is pleasant. I highly recommend this book. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude