Friday, February 24, 2023


February 24, 2023 Peace and Good, I have been in Rome for the past ten days or so. Last week we had a long definitory which was a bit more taxing than most of them. This week I have spent time doing daily reflections (I have finished up to Holy Thursday) and today and tomorrow I intend to do some writing for the Messenger Magazine. Sunday I take off for Chicago to meet with the friar who will be my successor in this work, fr. Joseph Wood. He will take over at the beginning of July. The weather is Roman winter weather. The temperature gets into the low 60's most days, but there are a lot of clouds (but not a lot of rain). The other day I had lunch with one of our friars from the Penitenzeria. These are the confessors at the Vatican. We visited the Church of St. Louis the King. In one of the side chapel there are some Carravaggio paintings. He is such an incredible artist, an expert with the use of light and shadows. It is a shame that he was such a wretch of a person. Each day as I move around my room, I decide what I want to keep and ship back to the States and what I would like either to give away or throw away. This has been a very good exercise to teach me detachment. My folks moved three times in their last years, and each time they moved they got rid of 2/3's of what they had. I have finished some reading: Planet Simpson by Chris Turner This is the history of the Simpson show, especially in its golden era. Turner also deals at length with the sociological importance of the show’s observations. Some of the findings are hilarious, and they are always insightful. Devil of Black Creek by Victor Methos This is a novella about two sisters and the boyfriend of one of them who go into the countryside with the home of discovering a savage hominid who has been murdering settlers and visitors to a certain area of the country. Even when they find it and one of them is killed, they cannot prove its existence to others. The Radium Girls by Kate Moore This is the story of the women who were hired to paint radium dials on watches before and after the First World War. At the beginning, little was known of the effects of radium poisoning. Even when the dangerous effects of this poison were discovered, the companies which hired the women fought to keep the information quiet and fought against any type of monetary settlement to aid the stricken women. The book is well done. Ireland in the 1990’s: the Path to Peace by Ed Lengel This is a history of the troubles in Ireland from the time of the First World War til the eventual peace agreements which have largely quieted down the terrible sectarian fighting between Catholics and Protestants. The professor is not afraid to lay blame where it lies. He especially deals with the negotiations which led to a relatively peaceful period. Attila the Hun by Kelly Mass There is relatively short presentation of the life and deeds of this terrible person (at least from the point of view of those who suffered due to his invasions). There is relatively little information known about him, and most of that information was collected by his enemies. Akkadian Empire by Kelly Mass This is a short presentation of the Akkadian civilization in Mesopotamia in the early days of settlement there. It is the first of a few books on ancient empires written by Kelly Mass. She produces a short but quite sparce presentation. The Real Sherlock by Lucinda Hawksley This is a short study of Arthur Conan Doyle. It draws information from a number of sources from the family of Doyle. This is a very good first presentation of the life and writings of the author who produced the Sherlock Holmes books and stories as well as a number of other books as well. Medical Mysteries across History: Part II by Roy Benaroch I have listened to a number of courses by Benaroch from the Great Courses. This is really not one of his best presentations. It is an attempt to diagnose historic figures from the information provided by various sources. 2,000 Years of Papal History by John O’Malley This is a Learning25 course dealing with the history of the papacy over its 2,000 years. The professor presenting the material emphasizes that it is not the history of the Church, but rather an overview of some of the popes, their lives, and their accomplishments. O’Malley is a good presenter, and he is not afraid to be honest in his evaluations. I would highly recommend this presentation and others by this professor (I have already read his history of the Council of Trent). Syria and the Assad Family by Charles River Editors This is the story of the rise of the Syrian state after World War II and of the rise of the Assad family. They belong to a minority group (not Sunni) called the Alawites. That has given them a loyal power base which has controlled both the government and the army for many years (even now after the incredibly disastrous Syrian civil war). The Final Days of Jesus by Shimon Gibson This is a book written by an archaeologist concerning the last days of Jesus in Jerusalem. The author is way too self-referential, showing how his discoveries changed the way people thought about this or that. Nevertheless, the book does contain some interesting details. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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