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

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Rome ne

June 3, 2021 Peace and Good, I finished my time in Rome, and on Tuesday I travelled to Atlanta. The flight was on Delta. It was long, but reasonably comfortable. The number of people flying was still low, but it is starting to grow. The EU is supposed to scale back some of its Covid regulations shortly, which should help a bit with the tourism season (although this is probably too late this year to salvage the season). I found the people at Delta very helpful and friendly, and believe I could recommend flying with them to anyone. I am visiting three of our friaries in the Atlanta area. I am at the first of these in Columbus, Georgia (south of Atlanta and alongside the Alabama border). Here we take care of three parishes. One is small and mostly Hispanic, another small and African American, and the third large and mixed - having a grammar school and a high school). I am already quite impressed with the work the friars are doing here. There is a social outreach center who provide food, clothing, rent and utilities assistance, etc. The directors of the school and the outreach center are tremendous people. The staff here is very friendly. On Saturday, I will head to Jonesboro, and then on to Holy Cross Parish in Atlanta. I leave this area on the 10th. I finished some reading: High Heat by Lee Child This a novella about Jack Reacher when he was a teenager. He takes a trip to New York City the night of the great power outage in 1977. He runs into an FBI agent who is furloughed, and a mafia boss whom he antagonizes. He even runs across the Son of Sam killer. The story is farfetched and almost like a comic super hero, but yet it is entertaining. The odd thing is that the day after the blackout was when I went to New York to take off for Europe for the first time for my studies. Bill Bryson by Audible Interviews Bill Bryson has written a great variety of books, including science and travel. The book he is presenting in this interview is The Body. He speaks about how the body works, and the strange phenomena that one discovers concerning the body. Le Morte D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory This is the story of the reign of King Arthur and his round table. I have often read that Malory’s books were often read and respected in the antebellum south. I really did not enjoy the book because it is filled with men and women who profess their faith while they go around sleeping with each other out of wedlock and killing each other for sport. The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carre This is a very, very good book (as are most of le Carre’s). It deals with a young British actress who is recruited by the Mossad to play the role of a lover of a Palestinian terrorist whom they caught with the purpose of trapping his brother. The story is very believable. It is heart rending and heart stopping. Remarkably, it is able to treat both Israelis and Palestinians and their causes with respect. Saber Toothed Tigers by Charles River Editors This is a short treatment of the saber toothed carnivore which ranged throughout much of the world during and shortly after the last ice age. Much of the book deals with archeological evidence of its body shape and speculation on what that meant for its hunting habits. The Great Influenza by John Barry This is a full treatment of the great influenza of 1918, the so-called Spanish flu. Barry gives the details of the disease as well as its treatment. He is very critical of the way that the government and the media treated the outbreak. This flu probably killed between fifty and one hundred million around the world. It probably originated in Kansas, and then spread to a training camp for the army. The movement of these troops spread it throughout the country which was then fighting World War I. One of the best aspects of the treatment is the description of how the medical profession changed from what amounted to near quackery to well trained professionals. St. Gregory the Great by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of the great Holy Father Gregory who helped the Church survive in very confusing times. Barbarians were often at the gates, and the Byzantine Empire who were nominal rulers of Italy had largely abandoned it. Gregory had to take temporal rule into this hands. Gregory is presented as an unwilling monk who wanted anything but to be pope. The only problem with the book is that the introduction and the conclusion are filled with information that really has nothing to do with the main topic. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude