Monday, February 28, 2022

Louisville, KY - Prior Lake, MN - Ellicott City, MD

February 28, 2022 Peace and Good, I have finished the first stage of my visitation to the province of Our Lady of Consolation. We had originally hoped that this would be it, but weather and other situations meant that we could not finish the entire visitation in one setting. I will return to Rome this Wednesday, and then come back to the Midwest on the 13th of March. Our (fr. Wayne and myself) visit to Minnesota was quite cold and snowy, what you would expect in February. Everyone the friars have been very welcoming to us. This has been a good experience, but tiring because each friar with whom you speak must be listened to with the greatest attention. My home province has elected a new provincial who will take office in May, fr. Michael Heine. He is one of my former students, and a very good man. Please keep him in your prayers. I am just passing through Ellicott City for a few appointments at doctors' offices (the usual) and a few meetings with various friars. I have finished some reading: The History of the Sunni and Shia Split by Charles River Editors This is an overview of the division between the two major sects of Islam. The Sunni are the majority, while the Shia are the majority in Iran and some of the Gulf States. It speaks of the early division, eventual battles, and the modern state of the issue. The Shia tends toward a more demonstrative faith including shrines and “saints”, while the Sunni tend toward a more Puritanical version of the faith. Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns by James Mahaffey This is a long account of various nuclear accidents (whether involving a small number of people, or being tremendous disasters such as Chernobyl). The author gives a good picture of the science behind the whole process (a warning for those who are not interested in a technical presentation which this book certainly has). It also deals with the development of different types of nuclear reactors for power production, submarine propulsion and even to power airplanes. The Face of Battle by John Keegan This is a classic account of some major English battles. The author deals with the literary treatment of war, and of what those in the battle would have experienced. Keegan is an author who has written some excellent books on battle and war. I don’t think that this was his best effort. Shocking Psychological Studies and the Lessons They Teach by Thad Polk This is a teaching company course offered for free by Audible. It deals with psychological and medical studies which broke the rules of good conduct (e.g. not informing the subjects about the study, risking the harm of those involved, not having a good purpose for the study). It includes such studies as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study in which a group of African Americans were allowed to slowly die of the disease even though there were treatments available. There were also studies on children, on soldiers who were given hallucinogenic drugs without their knowledge, etc. Gaius Marius by Charles River Editors This is the story of a general in the Roman army who helped change the way that the army was organized. Previously, most of the soldiers had been drawn from the middle class citizens of the republic. He hired armies from the poorer citizens, and he arranged for their pay and their retirement, thus obtaining their loyalty. These soldiers were no longer attached to the state as much to their general which would mean that they became a major source of power. This was the first step toward the fall of the republic and the civil wars that plagued Rome during the 1st century BC.. Medieval Myths and Mysteries by Dorsey Armstrong This is one of the free courses for Audible Plus. I had listened to another course offered by this professor, one that dealt with the life and legend of King Arthur. This one deal with a series of lectures on topics of medieval things such as dragons or the search for the holy grail. The lecturer has a pleasant way of presenting the topic. The Glorious Revolution by Charles River Editors This is the story of the fall of James II (a Stuart king) who was Catholic and favored an end to anti-Catholic persecution in England. In a non-bloody revolution, William and Mary (Mary being James II’s Daughter) brought an army from the low countries and conquered England, exiling James to the continent. Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 by Tony Judt This is an outline of the various movements and events from the time of the end of World War II to the present. It deals with individual countries, communism vs. anti-communism movements, the European Community, what it means to be European, what the future of Europe in a globalized society, etc. The book is long and at times technical, but it is a great treatment of the topic. Have a good week. May your Lent be a true time of conversion and compassion. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, February 11, 2022

Ellicott City - Louisville - Angola, IN - Terre Haute - El Paso

February 11, 2022 As you can see in the title for this blog, I am on the road these days. I am engaged in the canonical visitation of the Province of Our Lady of Consolation, a province that runs from Ohio and Minnesota south to Texas and New Mexico. I am travelling with the Minister Provincial, which has proven to be a very successful model for the visit (normally the two of us would visit the friary separately). At the end of each visit, we can compare notes for the good of the friars involved. Our visitation got off to a rocky start, for we were hit by an ice storm. Here in El Paso, it is supposed to reach 70 degrees today, so it has been a big challenge to pack for this trip. This afternoon we will be going to our retreat house in Mesilla Park, just across the border in New Mexico. It is great to speak with all of the friars along the way. There will be quite a few changes at chapter, and our visit is helping to sort things out. One of the important interventions we did was to announce to our parish in Angola, IN, that the friars would be pulling out. The friars had been there for about 90 years, but given the shortage of friars and the fact that the local bishop has a surplus of priests, it was time to move on. fr. Wayne and I preached at the Masses at the main church and the mission church and read the letter of the bishop, explaining the reason for the move. We have a new provincial in Chicago. He is fr. Paul Langevin. He will take office at their provincial chapter in April. I was able to check with the Minister General to give approval for Paul (for new provincials must be approved by fr. Carlos, the Minister General. I finished some reading: Building a new Nation: the Federalist Era by Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier This is a relatively short treatment of the early years of the US republic. The author’s goal is not to overload the reader with details that would make the presentation boring. They do a very good job of this, and I would recommend the whole series (the drama of the American Republic) to anyone. Commentary on Joel by C.F. Keil and Franz Delitzsch A short while back, someone asked me about the minor prophet Joel and what he said. I did not know a lot about the topic, so I decided to read a commentary on the prophet’s book. This is quite a technical work, and it is certainly dated, but the two scholars who produced it was unrivalled in their scholarship, and I picked up quite a bit of information going through this relatively short work. Much of it involves weighing various possible translations, and other portions evaluate theories of other exegetes, but even that technical work offered insights. Nostradamus by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of the famous author/psychic whose works are still being consulted hundreds of years later to refer to various disasters and other current events. He wrote in such a vague style, like many psychics, that one could read the text in almost any way and make it apply to almost any situation. The author of this work gives examples of some of the famous applications and why they do or do not fit the text. Francis of Assisi: the Life and Afterlife of a Medieval Saint by Andre Vauchez This is a masterful treatment both of the life and writings of St. Francis, but also how he has been treated in the time that has evolved since his death (in art, literature, etc.). Vauchez gives a fair portrait to the Saint, only challenging those interpretations which are based more upon what people would like to see in Francis rather than who he truly was. He also explains some of the dynamics which led the Franciscans to transform from a lay movement to a religious community, and how that community was shaped by the needs and demands of the larger Church. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about St. Francis. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Philip Keller This is a commentary/reflection upon Psalm 23, The Lord is My Shepherd, written by an actual shepherd. Keller had a flock of sheep in East Africa where he lived and worked, but he was also a lay minister. He gives some meaningful insight to the various phrases used in the psalm. His approach is not truly an exegetical one, as much as a spiritual reflection and application to everyday Christian life. A History of Ancient Rome by Frances Titchener This is part of the Record Books Modern Scholar series of courses. I was able to download a ton of them from my local library. This course runs from the founding of Rome to the days of the Emperor Constantine. In general, the scholarship is good, although I detected a bit of Edward Gibbons’ theories in the teaching offered by Titchener (that the fall of the Roman Empire was most of all due to its conversion to Christianity). She does not quite understand the dynamics of Church hierarchy. Otherwise, the book is well done. Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory This is the story of three sisters, the Tudors Margaret, Mary and their sister-in-law, Katherine of Aragon and their interaction. The narrative is told from the perspective of Margaret who comes across as a shrewish and selfish person. She was the queen and queen mother of the kings of Scotland. Mary, who was the widow of the king of France, comes across as a social butterfly. Katherine is presented as an overly religious and judgmental person. The flaws of each of the characters are pushed a bit much, but the book does give some insights to the dynamics of the Tudor dynasty (especially from a point of view of some women who are often not considered in other works). The Edge of the Sky by Roberto Trotta This is an audible book which presents a study of astrophysics in simple, almost childish terms. It comes across almost like a fairy tale, but at the same time it is dealing with weighty topics as the galaxies, dark matter, gravitational attraction, etc. It was an enjoyable listen. Have a good and safe week. Shalom fr. Jude