Monday, April 11, 2022

Rome - La Verna - Rome

April 11, 2022 Peace and Good, We started our definitory a week ago Saturday, and then on Sunday we headed up to La Verna for our annual retreat. La Verna is in Toscany, and it is a site on a mountain side. This is the place where St. Francis received the stigmata a couple of years before his death. The OFM friars have a beautiful shrine there, and this is the third time that I have had a retreat there. The friars have done one very good thing - they have begun to heat the rooms so that they are no longer uncomfortably cold. In the past one froze outside and inside the friary. Now it is much better. When we arrived there was still snow on the ground, but over the course of the week it melted (even if the weather remained cloudy and windy). We have two different retreat presenters, one of our friars who is the rector of the Basilica in Padua and one of the friars from La Verna who lives in the hermitage there. Saturday we returned to Rome and this afternoon we will begin our definitory again. It will go until Wednesday evening, and then we will spend the Triduum in prayer. Sunday I head back to the States where I will be travelling from one city to the next until the beginning of June. I have finished some reading: The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris This is a biography of the life and career of Joseph Lister and his crusade to establish antiseptic conditions in his operating rooms. He surprisingly faced much opposition, including in the United States. Yet, the success of his procedures in comparison to those of others became obvious over time, and by the time of his death he was recognized as a pioneer in the practice of antiseptic surgery. Roman Hispania by Charles River Editors This is a history that speaks of the lands of Spain and Portugal under the local Celtic tribes, under the Greeks and the Carthaginians, and then finally under the Romans until the land was conquered by Visigothic invaders and later by Islamic invaders. The author necessarily covers the career of Hannibal who began his invasion of Italy from Spain. Rules of Prey by John Sanford This is a novel about a serial killer in Minnesota and how a brilliant policeman is slowly able to track him down, more by accident than anything. The detective is presented as a flawed individual whose relationships with women are damaged (both due to him and to them). He is also the friend of a nun who helps him to sort out the profound dimension of what the killer was doing (as she and some others play the computer games which the detective had developed). Beginner’s Mind by Yo-Yo Ma This is a short audible book which speaks of how Yo-yo Ma learned to play the cello, and especially how he developed his talents so that his playing might be an honest communication of culture. He especially emphasized the need to work with fellow musicians in a partnership. The book is well done, showing how the background and studies of Ma became the raw material of his artistic endeavors. Revelations by Elaine Pagels This is an investigation into the content and the effect of the Book of Revelation. Pagels is an expert on Gnostic Literature, and she brings some of that knowledge into this study. She has a very strange theory concerning those whom the community opposed (positing that they were fellow Christians of the Pauline variety and not the pagans and Gnostics of that era). Yet, some of her treatment of the eventual reception of the book by the community is very well done. King, Kaiser and Tsar by Catrine Clay This is an overview of the lives and actions of King Edward VII of England, Kaiser William of Germany, and Tsar Nicholas of Russia. Only the first survived the disruptions of World War I. The three were cousins who often communicated, especially in light of their descendance from Queen Victoria. William is presented as an unbalanced autocrat who desperately needed good advisors but did not have them. The Age of Tyrants by Charles River Editors This speaks of the tyrants of ancient Greece. Today we use the word for cruel autocrats, and a few of the ancient tyrants were in fact this. But most of the tyrants were individuals who seized power to displace the autocrats who normally ruled Greek cities. They were opposed by those autocrats because they threatened their privilege. The Search for the Green River Killer by Charlton Smith and Tomas Guillen This is the account of the mass murderer known as the Green River Killer (in the state of Washington). It speaks of the attempts of the police to discover who was killing so many women and leaving their bodies in isolated fields. The killer was eventually discovered, although almost by accident. This investigation gave rise to many of the reforms in police departments and the FBI to use more scientific means of discovery. Gunpowder by Charles River Editors This is a history of the invention of gunpowder and then of instruments in which it could be used (fireworks, guns, canons, etc.). The book speaks of the spread of knowledge about this substance from China to the Arab world and then to Europe. May you have a prayerful Holy Week. Shalom fr. Jude


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