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


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