Sunday, January 8, 2023


January 8, 2023 Peace and Good, I thas been great to be in one place for almost a month. This week has been very quiet in the friary, but Rome is like an ant hill with all of the tourists swarming in for the holidays. There were already a lot of people, but Pope Benedict's funeral has made it even busier. I am sure that the restaurant owners and souvenir shops are thrilled, given their poor showing in these past couple of years with covid. The weather is cool but nice. The rains are supposed to start later today and we should have a few days of steady rain, which is normal for winter in Rome. Tomorrow we start a week of meetings with the new provincials, custodes and secretaries. We call it "baby provincial" school. It gives them a vision into the Order beyond their jurisdictions, and especially with the secretaries, it helps them with the documents they will have to produce in these years. Next week we will have another meeting with half of the major superiors of the Order (meeting the other half in June). The purpose of the meeting is to take stock of where things stand at the half way point in this six year term. Right after the meeting I will be heading to the States for some vacation. I am really looking forward to it. I have not had an extended (four week) vacation, nor even more than one week, in many years. I finished some books: The Bourne Objective by Robert Ludlum This episode in the spy novels about Jason Bourne, a man trained to be an assassin in a super-secret program run by the CIA called the Treadstone Program. In this volume, he is working against the remnants of Treadstone, a secret organization that is seeking ancient secrets concerning the treasure of King Solomon, and a group of Russian mafia as well as drug Lords. I have to admit that the plot was a bit too twisted and convoluted, difficult to keep the pieces in place. Heaven’s Gate by Charles River Editors This is a short history of a suicidal cult founded by a man and woman who claimed to have contact with extraterrestrials. They led their people to prepare to leave their current vessels (bodies) to be able to travel to some paradise after they had been properly cleansed of the shortfalls of this world. The Boston Massacre by Charles River Editors This short presentation is part of a series of short books on the American Revolution. They are all well prepared, and they give the background on what happened, the reasons that it happened, and the aftermath after it was over. This book covers the Boston Massacre (the title given to the death of five men killed by British soldiers after a mob had tormented the soldiers with snowballs and stones. The Battle of Tsushima by Charles River Editors At the beginning of the 20th century, Russia and Japan went to war over control of some ports in China and eventually over control of Korea. The Japanese unexpectedly attacked the Russia fleet in Port Arthur, their base in China, without having declared war on China. The Czar sent his Baltic Fleet from their home base all the way to China, and this book speaks of the catastrophic defeat of said fleet, causing Russia to definitively lose the war (and setting off protests and a near revolution in Russia). The Body of David Hayes by Ridley Pearson This is a suspense novel about the attempt to force a woman who is an executive at a bank to transfer funds that had been placed and hidden somehow in the bank by criminal elements. The husband of the woman is a cop who must protect her not only from physical danger, but also from the blackmail of the criminals having a sex tape of the woman which they are threatening to release if she does not cooperate. The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy This is the story of how one man volunteered to teach on an offshore island in South Carolina. He was one of two teachers in a small school house to African-American children who had no knowledge of the outside world, who were often illiterate, and some of whom spoke the local dialect (Gullah) better than English. The author presents himself as a great hero and savior, and there is no doubt that he did good things in the year he taught there. Vigilante Wars by Cecelia Holland This short presentation speaks of the development of a civilian vigilante movement in San Francisco in the 19th century, and how what started as a defense force to help the all but powerless police force grew into a danger to itself and the citizens of a city in the midst of the gold rush. Ninth and Nowhere by Jeffery Deaver This is the story of one street corner where the lives of a number of different people came together in a disastrous manner, and how the survivors to these incidents fared in the aftermath. Alcibiades: the Anti-Hero of Ancient Greece by In60Learning This is a short biography of the original bad boy of ancient Athens. He was handsome and vain, and he was a crowd pleaser. Yet, he had great enemies, and he made himself the enemy of various nations as he travelled from one power to another, always betraying the previous patron. The Bill of Rights by David Hudson This is a Learn25 course on the first 10 amendments of the US constitution and how they have been interpreted throughout our history. The presenter is clear and thorough, going through quite a bit of case history in describing how these rights developed and how they changed. I could easily recommend this particular course. Roman History 101 by Christopher Bellitto This is a course offered by the Learn25 (previously knows as Now You Know). Belitto is a very good presenter, and I intend to listen to as many of his courses as I can find. A presentation of 5 hours can’t go into great depth on any of the topics, but it does give a good outline of the history of Rome as the Republic thrived, and then slowly fell apart. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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