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


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