Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Rome - Piglio - Rome

April 4, 2023 Peace and Good, After we finished our definitory meeting, the members of the definitory travelled to a town about one hour outside of Rome for our annual retreat. The friary is a large shrine on top of a hill in a very rural part of the country (mostly dedicated to growing grapes for wine). The friars were exceedingly hospitable. The presenter, fr. Felice Autieri, originally from Naples but now living and teaching in Assisi, was tremendous. He presented some figures and events from the start of the Franciscan movement. His portrayal of important figures was fair and well studies (not a one dimensional presentation that one sometimes hears when professors want to show that they are unique and know more than everyone else). We have returned to Rome for Holy Week. I will be here in Rome until Easter Tuesday when I travel to Los Angeles to make a visitation with some of our Korean friars who have a friary there and serve the local Korean immigrant community. Then, that Friday I head to Chicago for our semi-annual meeting of the CFF, the last one I will be attending. Then back to Rome. The weather here in Rome is quite nice, in the 60's. There are many, many tourist here for Holy Week. They are very relieved that the Holy Father was not in the hospital longer, for they truely want to see him and participate in the Vatican liturgies. I finished some reading: The Occupation and Liberation of France during World War II by Charles River Editors This is a short overview of the blitzkrieg that caused the fall of France, and then of the liberation of France, emphasizing in particular the liberation of Paris (mostly by its own inhabitants. Golda Meir by Charles River Editors This is a well written presentation on the life and career of Golda Meir, the first female prime minister of Israel. The history is very well outlined, and this short book also presents a good view of the politics of Israel from the time of its independence until the Yom Kippur War (shortly after which Golda Meir resigned as prime minister). Inuit Mythology by Bernard Hayes This is a short and interesting overview of the mythology of the Inuit people. So much of it revolves upon the water and the creatures found in it and upon which the Inuit depend. Being a very short presentation, the overview is cursory, but it presents enough knowledge to get a sense of things. Seven Men and the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas This is the account of seven remarkable men who changed the history of the world and who were guided by their faith in what they did. They include George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II and Charles Colson. The author is evangelical, and the account is heavily influenced by that background, but the stories are also uplifting. Central America by Joseph Stromberg This is a relatively short history of the central American republics, their cooperation, their antagonism, and their difficulties. The author cannot go into depth on any particular topic, but there is enough information to get a sense of what one is dealing with when one speaks about a particular central American republic. The Election of 1860: A Nation Divides on the Eve of War by Jessica Genderson This is a short account of the country at the time of the Civil War, of the election of 1860, the effects of the victory Lincoln won first of all to become the Republican Party nominee, and then to become the president of the nation. It speaks about the breakaway of the Confederate States, and the lack of action by President Buchanan and the fruitless efforts of Lincoln to avoid the conflict. The Acropolis of Athens by Charles River Editors This is a good account of the significance of the Acropolis in Athens. It is the home to religious and civic monuments that shaped the way that the Athenians thought about themselves. It was destroyed by the Persians during their great invasion, but rebuilt to even greater status afterward. It suffered the destruction of the ages until it is now only a hulk of what it once was, but even in ruins it inspires poets and scholars and everyday people. Roman Gaul by Charles River Editors This is the history of Gaul before the Roman invasion, during the invasion by Julius Caesar, and then afterward until it was conquered by the barbarians and became the focal point for the new nation of France. The author spends quite a bit of time on the conquest of Caesar, possibly because so much material is available from Caesar’s own account. Witchcraft in the Western Tradition by Jennifer McNabb This is a Teaching Company course on the idea of witches throughout the ages. A considerable amount of time deals with the persecution of witches, especially in the early modern era. The professor tries to draw out why this particular phenomenon occurred at that time (agricultural difficulties due to a minor ice age, religious difficulties due to the Protestant Reformation, etc.). The professor is not a sensationalist, but rather tries to apply a logical approach to the study. The Fall of Rome by Adrian Goldsworthy This is a magisterial study of the fall of the Roman Empire (or as some would say, the evolution of the empire into something else). Goldsworthy is a tremendous scholar of ancient times, and this book is no exception. It is quite long, but never boring. Each topic is treated with care and precision. I could easily recommend this book to anyone. Ernest Hemmingway by Hourly History This is a short biography of the famous 20th century author. Often married, excessively macho, married to a sparce style, he wrote of war and violence (e.g. in the cull ring) and other topics that he though showed his male nature. I have never really liked either his writing style nor his pathetic posturing. May the rest of Holy Week be a good, spiritual time for you and Happy Easter Shalom fr. Jude


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