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


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