Saturday, June 4, 2022

Baltimore - Castro Valley (CA) - San Juan Bautista, CA

June 4, 2022 Peace and Good, We finished the chapter for Our Lady of Angels Province which was held at the Maratime Center in Baltimore. Right after it ended, fr. Carlos, the Minister General, and I headed out to San Francisco, actually a town named Castro Valley just outside of Oakland. We held the chapter of St. Joseph of Cupertino Province in the Franciscan Retreat House in San Juan Bautista. This is about an hour and a half south of San Francisco. The weather was perfect - nicely warm with almost no humidity. Having returned to Castro Valley, there is a marine layer (clouds and fog which has rolled in from the sea) and they expect some rain tonight and tomorrow, which would be very, very welcome in a state so racked by drought. All four of the chapters have gone very, very well. There was a spirit of cooperation, and no factionalism. The second sessions of the chapters begin in about two weeks, starting in Los Angeles. In the meantime, I am flying back to Rome for a meeting of our General Definitory. Checking in this morning was the first time in these past two years that I could check in on line for an international flight. When I get back to Rome, I have to work on more daily reflections and a series of articles for a magazine in Kenya. I finished some reading: The Lost Books of the Old Testament by Charles River Editors This is a short treatment of those books which were written in ancient times but never made it into the Old Testament. There are the books which Protestants consider to be Apocrypha and Catholics call Pseudo-Epigrapha, e.g. 1 and 2 Maccabees, Tobit, Baruch, etc. There are the books which Protestants consider to be Pseudepigrapha and Catholics call Apocryphal, such as the Book of Jubilees and the Testimony of the Twelve Patriarchs. There are also books from Qumran and from Gnostic communities. Haile Selassie by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of the last emperor of Ethiopia. He gained power through palace machinations, fought Mussolini during World War II, became a cult figure to Rastafarians (their name based on one of his titles, the Rastafa), and was overthrown by a Marxist coup. The book gives the basic information, but never really delves into him as a person (which would probably have been difficult given his times and the lack of information in his own homeland). King John by Marc Morris This is a masterful account of the life and career of King John, the brother of King Richard the Lionhearted and the signer of the Magna Carta. He comes across very poorly, constantly abusing the people he ruled and almost constantly having to fight rebellions (many of which he caused due to his poor reign). Morris is a good story teller and his account finds the proper balance between fact and development of the figures involved. Gustavus Adolphus by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the life of the famous Swedish king who caused his kingdom to pass from being a third rate state to being a powerhouse of military and diplomatic power. He was involved in multiple wars, not always winning them but always learning from them. He was a religious man (Lutheran) who took the side of Christian non-Catholics against the Catholic Church. 1913: the Eve of War by Paul Ham This is an account of the status of the European powers in the year before the beginning of World War I. Rather than blame one side or another for the war, the author puts the blame on all of the parties for their effort to prepare for war but not to preserve peace. Only a couple of diplomats come out looking good, while the usual figures (the leaders of Germany, Austro-Hungary, Russia, etc.) all come out looking very bad, negligent in their duties to their people. Pablo Picasso by Hourly History This short biography gives an overview of the life and painting career of Picasso. He was a prodigy at an earliest age. He did much of his work in France once he left his native Spain. He was much more devoted to his painting than he was to his wife or children. One could almost say that he was a true genius, but not a very nice person. Ancient Jericho by Charles River Editors This is supposed to be an account of the city of Jericho, but the author spreads a much wider net to include some of the influences on the city by the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks and the Romans. Some of the material is well presented, but not all of it. Operation Gunnerside by Charles River Editors This is the story of the SAS attempt to destroy the heavy water plant in Norway during World War II (due to its use in Atomic research). The atomic program in Germany did not really get off the ground (due to budgetary restraints and the emigration of so many talented, Jewish scientists). The plan to destroy the heavy water facilities depended much upon Norwegian saboteurs who were both brave and brilliant in their work. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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