Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Louisville, KY - Albuquerque, NM - Angola, IN - Carey, OH - Louisville, KY

March 23, 2022 Peace and Good, I have been travelling in these days to finish off the visitation to Our Lady of Consolation Province in the Midwest. One of the trips in these days was to visit fr. Charles McCarthy who works at Laguna Pueblo, a native American reservation, in New Mexico. He takes care of a number of small churches in the immediate area. I was very impressed with his ability to know the local culture without becoming obsessed with knowing everything. At times, knowing what the boundaries are and respecting them is a very important part of dealing with others. We, fr. Wayne and myself, visited the National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio. It is a parish church with a statue of Our Lady of Consolation which draws people from all around, especially during the summer. I will be heading off to Baltimore this coming Saturday for a re-dedication of Carrollton Manor, a house built by Charles Carroll of Carrollton as a wedding present for his niece. Carroll was the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his cousin was the first bishop in the country. The building has been refurbished to bring it back to some of its original beauty, and it will serve as a museum, meeting hall, etc. I have finished some reading: The First World War by Peter Simkins, Geoffrey Jukes and Michael Hickey This is an account of the war from the beginning to the end. It is written by British authors, so it is heavily bent in their favor. It does a good job on the Western front, a little less so on the Eastern front, but a disastrous job on the war around the world (e.g. the Pacific, Africa). The British Bulldog and the French Poodle in Africa by Charles River Editors In spite of the title of this short book, it is a quite good account of the grab for colonies in Africa, especially during the 19th century. Both colonial powers were looking for a continuous line of colonies from one side of Africa to the other (the British from north to south, the French from east to west). Obviously, only one of them would win. The final breaking point was the encounter between the French and British in an out of the way place named Fashoda. The account also deals with the invasion of Egypt by Napoleon. Raphael: Painter in Rome by Stephanie Storey This is an entertaining historical fiction account of the artist Raphael (along with his rival Michelangelo). The author is playful in the presentation of dialog and of the artists quirks (as well as those who surrounded the papal court). When I first started the book, I was worried that it might be too colloquial, but it is the type of book that deals with important issues without allowing itself to be bogged down with facts and details). The author has written other books about the era which I now intend to read. The Eternal City by Ferdinand Addis This is a very fine book that covers the city of Rome from ancient times up to the present day. It deals with some topics of which I had heard but had never received much information about. The tone of the book is respectful, even when dealing with issues such of the papacy during the very bad years in the Middle Ages and even the Renaissance. I would recommend this book. American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant by Ronald C. White This is a well written, comprehensive biography of General/President Grant. It deals with his successes and his failures. It shows Grant to be a humble, simple man with his flaws like anyone else. He was often underestimated by those around him, which was a big mistake. The author does not cover up the disastrous corruption during his presidential administration, nor his bankruptcy in the following years. I especially enjoyed the author’s treatment of the period in which Grant wrote his memoirs (which were then published by Mark Twain). The Great American Rascal: The Turbulent Life of Aaron Burr by Noel Gerson This is a biography of a man who was both a hero and a villain. He was incredibly ambitious, but not always cognizant of the folly of his outlandish plans (e.g. to conquer Mexico and make it his own personal empire). He was the Vice-President under Jefferson, but even that he handled so poorly that there was a permanent enmity between the two men. He was the model for the short story, “The Man Without a Country,” for after he was tried for treason, he fled to England (followed by Sweden, then Germany, then France, then back to England). He borrowed money wherever he went, rarely paying it back. He was certainly a man who moved to his own drummer, a drummer who was often out of beat of the rest of society. Edgar Allen Poe: Master of Horror by Mark Canada This is a production of the Teaching Company in collaboration with Audible Books. It is the product of a professor of literature who has studied Edgar Allen Poe extensively. I found a couple of his theories strange, but overall the course gives a good insight into this strange man and author. His greatest fame for his poetry, mystery novels and even detective novels came after his death. He is seen to have been a terribly tortured man who man self-destructive choices (and not only with his use of drink and drugs). The Hubble Space Telescope by Charles River Editors This is one of the productions of Charles River Editors who produce short but thorough presentations on particular topics. In this case, the book is about the Hubble Space Telescope. Besides the history of the telescope itself, there is a mind-numbing catalog of its discoveries and of various astronomical theories. I really can’t say that I would recommend this book except to someone who is desperately interested in the topic. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, March 14, 2022

Ellicott City, MD - Rome - Louisville, KY

March 14, 2022 I was back in Rome for the meeting of our General Definitory. These meetings usually go about a week, and they are held in Italian. At them we speak about the situation of the Order all throughout the world. Obviously this time Ukraine became one of the larger considerations. Our friars in Poland and Romania are working a lot to take care of refugees who have fled the county (mostly women and children). The friars in Ukraine itself and working to feed the internal refugees and to serve the spiritual needs of the traumatized people. The weather in Rome is that of early spring. The friars there tell me that it did not rain all that much throughout the winter, so they would actually love to see more rain. The situation is slowly transforming from covid to post-covid. I returned to the States last night to conclude my canonical visitation to the mid-western province of Our Lady of Consolation. Wednesday fr. Wayne and I will fly down to Albuquerque to visit a friar working with the Navaho, and then we will visit Carey, Ohio where there is a shrine to Our Lady of Consolation. On the 26th I head to Baltimore for the re-dedication of one of the buildings on our property that was built by the Carroll family (as in Charles Carroll of Carrolltown, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence) in 1830. Then on the 29th I head back to Rome. I finished some reading: Hollywood’s 10 Greatest Actresses This is a series of short biographies of ten famous actresses: Katharine Hepburn, Betty David, Audrey Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford. It is amazing how many of them lived unhappy lives. They were used for their talent, and then disposed of. There is no question that each of them was also an ambitious person (with a self-destructive tendency in most of them). The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson by David Miller DeWitt This is an account of the trial of Andrew Johnson, the first president to be impeached (but not convicted by the Senate). Some of what he was accused of doing was purely political, for he was a Democrat (although a Union Democrat who supported the Union during the Civil War) and the majority in the Congress were Republicans (with a number being what was called Radical Republicans). Yet, part of the reason for his being impeached was the fact that he favored the cause of the whites in the South, allowing them to oppress the African Americans in the years following the Civil War. Great American Bestsellers: Books that Shaped America by Peter Conn This is an overview of many of the best sellers in America throughout its history and the importance of the books in shaping (or at least responding to) its culture. The author, which being a scholar of literature, is very balanced in his theories. He does not need to prove anything, which is often not the case with many literary critics. It was produced by the Teaching Company and includes 24 lectures. Writ of Execution by Perri O’Shaughnessy This is a novel about a young woman, a widow with a child, wins a jackpot at a casino. Her father-in-law persecutes her because he believes that she murdered her husband. A lawyer gets involved who is able to solve the mystery and rescue the woman from her persecutors. A side tale is the fact that there is a man who planned to take the jackpot himself because he had inside information about when the machine would strike it big. The book is OK, but not great. The Invention of Surgery by David Schneider This is a long and at times tedious account of some of the key moments in which surgery was invented and developed. It is written by a surgeon himself and therefore inside information that is helpful. The end of the book deals with the implant revolution which has changed the form and cost of medicine forever. Then the last chapter deals with an almost dystopic view of the future concerning genetic engineering and cerebral implants. Francis of Assisi: In His Own Words, ed. Jon Sweeney This is a short collection of the writings of St. Francis. The editor translated them himself, and he provides a useful introduction to each of the writings. These are not all of the works of Francis, but the ones chosen were said to give one a good idea of the rest. A Plague of Lies by John Lescroat This is a rather long murder mystery that involves questions about family members and the question of the drug trade and its true cost. The police and the lawyers are generally shown in a favorable light. This is the second book that I have read by Lescroat, and I can say that I wouldn’t mind reading others (although they would probably be on my “B” list, and not the “A” list). Maimonides by Charles River Editors This is one of the short biographies by Charles River which one can obtain for free in Kindle the first day of their publication. I have to say that this is one of the best that I have read in the series. It deals with a Jewish scholar from the Middle Ages who struggled to reconcile Jewish life and law with philosophic principles. Maimonides also produced a useful compendium of Jewish law. He also earned a living as a doctor, serving in this role for the leader of Egypt. The Life of Ed Sullivan by Charles River Editors This is an interesting biography of the famous showman Ed Sullivan. He was a jack of all trades and was an author of plays, a celebrity gossip newsman, a TV star producing a variety show, etc. He himself did not have all that much talent, and his speech was often confused and jumbled. Yet, he was able to produce a show on TV that was loved by many in the nation. He also was one of the first producers to invite African American musicians and stars upon his show. Furthermore, he was essential in the growth of fame of stars such as Elvis Presley and the Beetles. Nelson Mandela: The Life and Legacy of the Father of South Africa by Charles River Editors This is a biography of the famous opponent of Apartheid in South Africa. Thrown into prison for decades, he did not allow himself to fall into cynicism and vengeance. Rather, he all but miraculously led his nation to freedom and equality without tremendous violence (which almost everyone expected). He was not perfect either as a president nor as a man, but he was the right man for the right time. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude