Showing posts from 2007


For your consideration, this is the prayer I wrote for my Uncle Brian's swearing-in ceremony. Brian was sworn in as Municipal Judge for Rocky River. The Deborah mentioned is Deborah Comery who was sworn in as Clerk of Courts.

Good and Gracious God,
You have burdened those who would be your disciples
with a daunting task:
Ours is to be a faith that seeks
to do justice for all.

This community recognizes the challenge of faith
and we pray for Deborah and Brian
as they take office this day.

May your Holy Spirit enliven and inspire them
as they seek to interpret and apply the law
in a way that respects and defends the dignity
of all persons.

May the example of your Son, Jesus Christ,
Provide provide Brian and Deborah with
a model of infinite compassion.
May their vocation as ministers of the law
Help to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Heavenly Father, we have heard many times that we
are to love you and our neighbor.
This is both the burden and the blessing of faith:
That in loving and serving the least of

2007 Liturgical Round-Up

There's a line in the book Farmer Boy where Father says to Almanzo something like "Many good beginnings have a bad ending." I don't know why this line has stuck with me since I heard it in the third grade, but it seems fairly apt as I reflect on the last two liturgies I attended in my home parish.
On Sunday I went to the 12:00 mass. To begin with, it's amazing how a church that is barely 1/3 full during the first reading swells to 3/4 full by the time we begin the liturgy of the Eucharist. I always thought it was a two-for-one deal (Word and Eucharist) but, apparently, one can choose to forgo the Liturgy of the Word and come in at the half-time break (I'm assuming the Nicene Creed and prayers of petition mark the intermission). 
Not that I can blame them, really. As an Irish musician, I'm accustomed to complicated melodies where wild combinations of notes highlight the skills of the musician. Unfortunately I have little vocal acumen and the opening song dem…

Ryan, Brian, and Michael

Would it be a Duns Christmas party without music? We three did a bit of a trio that Paul O'Connor, SJ recorded for us (We've fired Drew and moved up to a theologian as our filmographer!).

Ryan and Emma

On Christmas Morning, as the rest of the family opened presents. I contented myself with the love of Jesus. She contented herself with her own drool.

Merry Christmas!



I'd just like to say CONGRATULATIONS to my sister, Torrey Duns, TCRG. Torrey received today the news that she had passed her exam qualifying her to be an Irish dancing teacher.


I posted this on the Tin Whistle blog but I figured I might put it up here.

Drew came into my class on our last day and shot this video. I regret that I didn't have the students play "Silent Night" or "Jingle Bells" but the tune they have here - "The Rattling Bog" - should be familiar to fans of Irish music. I made them play the second part over and over again, getting progressively faster, just for the craic or fun of it.

Many laughed when they heard that there was going to be an actual college course offered on the whistle. These kids aren't quite ready to compete in Ireland, but I trust that each one has a deeper appreciation of their place in the Irish tradition.

MeMe Mania

Both Karen and Joe tagged me in a Christmas Meme. On this Eve of Christmas, I'm glad to respond:

1. Wrapping Paper or Gift Bags

I'm pro gift bag: they are re-usable (so environmentally friendly) and not having to tear through wrapping paper minimizes the risk of paper cuts.

2. Real Tree or Artificial

We're sort of on the fence on this one: I've alwayshad a real tree, but I see the value of the fake tree (Yeah for the environment!). The Duns house now has two decorated trees: the one under which presents are placed is real, the upstairs tree is artificial.

3. When do you put up the tree?

We put our tree up at Ciszek sometime after Thanksgiving. I'm assuming my parents put our trees up around the same time.

4. When do you take the tree down?

It'll probably be down by January 1st. Hopefully I won't be around for it - I hate taking down ornaments because the needles stick my fingers.

5. Do you like eggnog?

No! I drink an obligatory glass each year, but it's like drin…

Baby Talk

Well, I'm home for the holidays. 
As is my custom, I stay over at my grandmother's house where I get loads of peace and quiet and my own television (Food Network is on channel 40). This morning I woke up, showered, picked up my bagel and coffee (Gingerbread brew, in case you were wondering) and came home. My niece Emma stayed the night with Grandma and Grandpa Duns so she was in her bouncy-activity-lead-free-walking-seat in the middle of the kitchen when I arrived.
What is it about babies that makes adults lose their speech capacities and begin to speak utter gibberish? As I type this my sister Hagan is making the most ridiculous noises and asking questions such as "Who's got your nose? Who's got your nose?" in a variety of high-pitched catterwallings. This child is FOUR MONTHS OLD! Without a sense of Object Permanence (Hooray for Psych 101) every time she sees me its like I'm born anew in her eyes. So I highly doubt that she takes any cognizance of the fac…

Vocation Video

As many of you are aware, the Jesuits have of late been putting various vocation videos up on YouTube. Drew Marquard, SJ, shot many of the interviews over the Summer and they've now been edited and posted online.

I think this represents a good and creative step in vocation promotion. Below is a video offering Vocation Advice:

Perhaps by hearing - and now seeing - the ways that other men have discerned a vocation, those discerning how God is calling to them will find greater clarity.

Vocation Story

I submit for your reading pleasure this link to a story written by Paris Wolfe, a writer for the Saint Ignatius Magazine. It's a very fine piece about seven recent alums of St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland who have recently entered the Society of Jesus. It's a .pdf file so you'll have to download it. The stories are interesting and the pictures are good, too. Just follow the link to ThinkJesuit. Scroll down the main page and you'll see it!

I should mention that since its publication there have been two more alums from Ignatius to enter the Society: Andrij Hlabse and Lorenzo Herman entered the novitiate in August, 2007. That brings us to NINE recent alums....not too shabby!

Over the Hump

Well it's been a long time in coming: the days of leisure are now upon me! I finished my last paper on Friday and, since then, I have:

-gone to the movies to see "The Mist"
-visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art
-napped a lot
-begun reading a book I have to review for the Heythrop Journal

It's really amazing that the semester is over. It's not that it necessarily went very quickly, but now that it's over there's only one week until Christmas. I feel as though I've been rushed these last few weeks and I'm sort of sad that I haven't had time to savor more of the holiday spirit.

I guess I'll have to do a lot of 'savoring' when I get home on Thursday.

On a Jesuit-Formation note: do you realize that I'm now 1/2 way through my First Studies program? Three years seemed like a long time when I began but now, 50% of the way through, I realize how little time it is. I feel like I've grown by leaps and bounds these last semesters and I feel…

Dinner Party

The last two days have been spent largely on a dinner party I hosted here at Ciszek. Invtied guests included several Jesuits from America House and two faculty members from Fordham.

On the menu, in case you're curious:

Bacon and Spinach Wrapped Scallops
An assortment of cheeses and crackers
A gorgeous split-pea soup
Shepherd's Pie
Fresh Brown Bread
Pecan Pie with Spiced Whipped Cream (Not really in keeping with the Irish theme, but it was tasty and I wanted to use pecans we had left over from Thanksgiving).

This last week has been very, very busy. I'm heading into the home-stretch and have but one small paper to write sometime this week. With any luck, I'll have time to post more often between now and Christmas in order to make up for my relative absence these past few weeks.

One question for readers: any suggestions about a new series I might watch? As a Jesuit, I've watched Rome, Oz, the Sopranos, Smallville, Heros, and Top Chef. I'm looking for a new addictive pleasu…

The Shadow of the Cross

Readers of my blog are familiar with my sharing, on occasion, something of my own spiritual journey as a young Jesuit. There have been times that I offer reflections on the consolation of ministry and prayer and, to be sure, there are times I give a glimpse into my own struggles. Of late I have been wrestling with a particularly dark and weighty issue that has occupied an enormous amount of my spiritual energy.

Each year during Advent, our eyes turn toward the coming of the Savior with with hope and eager anticipation. Children scamper about and write Christmas list and adults shop and clean frantically. In our good moments, we have a chance to gather with one another and share memories of holidays past - old friends and loved ones now dead - and create memories we will treasure into the future. I, for one, am very excited to spend Christmas this year with my new niece Emma and it brings me great joy to imagine her wonder at the holiday seasons to come.

So it is with great difficulty th…

I'd Lather Not

I'm not a big spender, really. Apart from dining out (my favorite activity) I don't really spend very much money (just look at the way I'm dressed!).

Today, however, is one of those rare days that I splurged on a purchase. In need of shaving cream and deodorant, I walked over to a local Rite Aide and picked up some toiletries. As I wandered about the store, my eyes fell upon a wondrous invention: the ConAir Gel & Lather Heating System. All you have to do is drop in your can of shaving gel/cream and, after a few minutes, it's nice and hot! With the prospect of greater shaving comfort tantalizing me for only $20.00, I surrendered to my pleasure seeking nature and bought it.

Well, let me tell you: I will shave every day now. To be sure, the set up of the apparatus tested my technical ability. But the end result was worth it - my shaving gel was WARM! Hot, really, and perhaps I'll lower the temperature for the next time.

I'm hoping that this purchase will get the …

Tin Whistle Videos

Due to a technical snafu, I have to re-load all of the "Fordham University's Introduction to the Irish Tin Whistle" videos. I hope to have this completed by next weekend.

Thanks for your patience!


Some People Will Do Anything for a Discount

My Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Terry (O'Malley) arrived here for a visit yesterday. It's great to have guests and it's the first time that members of my family have visited Ciszek Hall.

I'm certainly proud of Fordham University and it was my great pleasure to give my aunt and uncle a tour of the campus. I rehearsed the history of some of the buildings and then, toward the end of our tour, we made the obligatory stop at the bookstore. Cheryl busied herself with shopping for sweatpants (for Sarah) and a hooded sweatshirt (for Bridgid). As anyone knows, such paraphernalia can be quite expensive.

So as we were walking to the checkout counter, I had an uneasy feeling that Cheryl was crafting an intricate plan to save money on her purchase. Would she claim that was purchasing these items for poor starving children? Would she suggest to the cashier that as the mother of two sons who graduated from a Jesuit high school or as the aunt of a Jesuit that she deserved some reduction in pri…

Traditional Irish Music Lessons

I just wanted to take a moment to plug the new website for Brian Holleran's (my soon-to-be brother-in-law) music school

Located in Cleveland, Ohio this music school promises to be a great asset to Irish culture in the area. With instruction available on tin whistle, flute, and uilleann pipes and, starting in 2008, on the fiddle, banjo, and concertina this school of traditional Irish music will help to promote Irish music and culture in Cleveland.

If you are interested in learning more, follow the link above or visit the Ciunas myspace page. As any reader of my blog knows, Irish music has been an integral part of my life's journey and I'm proud to know that a member of my family will be sharing his deep love of his culture with another generation of musicians who will, I pray, benefit as much as I have in being a part of traditional Irish music.

Soul Provider

Several weeks ago I received a copy of Father Edward L. Beck's new book Soul Provider. Based on the dust jacket's adulations - Andrew Greeley, Diane Sawyer, and Anne Lamont - I figured it'd be at the very least an accessible book on prayer. Fortunately for me, I found it not only accessible but also deeply moving.

Structured around the Ladder of Divine Ascent written by the sixth-century monk John Climacus, Soul Provider invites the reader to embark upon a spiritual pilgrimage. The book is broken up into thirty chapters, fourteen corresponding to vices that we need to overcome (anger, malice, falsehood --- a purgative path) and sixteen virtues we ought to acquire (Simplicity, humility, discernment -- an illuminative path) culminating in a deep union with God in love.

What I found helpful was both the length of each chapter - about ten pages each, making for quick reading - and the questions at the end of each chapter. These questions helped to spur my own personal prayer as …

Hurts So Good

As many readers know, over the past few years I have gradually become more and more engaged in what is commonly known as "working out." I have come to enjoy going to the gym and now that Drew has built a good home gym in the house, I enjoy it even more (since I don't have to walk outside in the cold to get to Fordham's gym).

So this week we embarked upon a whole new workout program. And let me say this: I am in pain! My legs are killing me and, after today's chest workout, I expect that tomorrow is going going to be a painful day. The irony is that I'm actually glad to feel sore: it means that the whole program is working!

I've been meaning to post all week, but I've been extraordinarily busy. I've finished two papers this week (just two more to go - one 15-20 page, one 10-page) and I've been refining a music primer that I'm writing. I also wrote an encyclopedia entry on "Judith" from the Book of Judith (apocryphal story in the Heb…

FLY Me to the Moon

So a quick tale about my day:

Wednesdays have become a packed day for me. I work out in the morning, shower, and then go to class from 11:00-1:00. I eat a piece of pizza at 1:15, go to the library for a little while, then I head over to Fordham Prep where I'm teaching the tin whistle as an after-school program.

So, in keeping with my policy of wearing clerical attire when teaching, I wear the whole outfit to class, too. And to the pizza shop. And to the library. Gist of the whole story: I'm looking very priestly on Wednesdays.

So at 2:20 this afternoon, I packed up my computer and, before I left the library, I made a pit stop to use the restroom.

You'll be glad to know that nothing out of the ordinary happened.

Until, that is, I tore the zipper mechanism off of my pants (I'll blame shoddy construction over my strength...although I did work out this morning). And, to make matters worse, the zipper teeth didn't connect so now I'm walking about with my fly completely o…

28 Years

Although this will be posted a bit before midnight, I am writing this as my birthday post. As many of you know, I was born on October 19th, 1979. It also happens to be the Feast of the North American Martyrs celebrating the 17th century Jesuits and Companions martyred by the Iroquois. Since it's my birthday, my parents think that the Feast of the North American Martyrs applies to them, too.

I often wonder what my parents thought 28 years ago when they held me for the first time. What hopes did they have? What dreams? Fears? Probably the same hopes/dreams/fears that my brother is feeling over his daughter Emma. Probably the same hopes/dreams/fears that I felt when I held Emma. But the joy of parenthood - or being an uncle, in my case - is to respond to the vocation to play a formative role in the life of a new creation.

I don't yet know how I'm going to celebrate. I'll work out in the morning and then translate some German. Then off to the library to work on some researc…

Love at First Bite

It is with great pleasure that I direct your attention to Love at First Bite - a film by Drew Marquard, SJ.

The film is being featured on and you can register to vote for his film.

Check it out!

Can you believe?

Can you believe that it is 4:00 am and the temperature outside is 79-degrees Fahrenheit? It's October 10th, after all, and I'm really quite ready for autumn temperatures to roll in. I'm not particularly fond of the heat and, since I'm up at 4:00 am, it goes without saying that this weather is preventing me from sleeping.

Since returning, I've written several posts *about* me but I've not had much that draws on much of the internal grist that I find helpful to write about. Since I'm awake, lucid, and hopeful that writing will make me sleepy I figure that I can write a bit about my internal life a bit.

It may come as a surprise for some that I found last year rather difficult. No, not spiritually or socially but, interestingly, academically. And no, it's not because I found the courses too rigorous or demanding. Instead, I was bored for almost the entire year. The philosophy courses I took were terribly dry and uninteresting and were not challenging. The sa…

Three More Pictures

My mom just sent me three more pictures of Emma:

Books, not Babies

As you can probably tell, I don't have the most *natural* baby-holding ability. I think it's because I'm used to holding books, or whisks, or accordions!

So here's Emma - my baby niece. My mom brought her to the Youngstown Feis yesterday and snapped this pictures. Hopefully my mom will send some pictures of her in her non-bundled outfit (she is cute underneath all of those layers!) but since the arena we were in yesterday was chilly, it was better to keep her warm.

Catching Up

Well, as you can see by my inability to post in a regular manner, I've been pretty busy these last few weeks. Between the start of school, a number of social activities, a lot of writing, nearly severing my thumb, and falling off of a ball as I tried to pray...well, I've been busy.

This weekend I'm heading off to Youngstown and Pittsburgh for their two feiseanna. My mom is going to bring my niece Emma on Sunday, so if I remember to bring my camera I'll be sure to take a lot of pictures.

It's been funny: there's really been nothing for me to comment on, nor has there been any internal motivation to write anything. Nothing particularly funny, or sad, or irritating has struck me. Which means only to say that I've been very busy, and extremely peaceful, so I've not needed to extrovert on these pages in order to process any angst.

It's like the year-round "Theater of the Absurd" that is so often my life has gone on a hiatus! Tragic, so tragic.

The …

Happy Belated Birthday!

I just wanted to wish a

Happy Belated Birthday (9/28)

to Loretta Marquard!!!!

A Cut Above

It is with a great deal of pain that I type this. Agony, really, so I shall be short. In addition to the bruised ribs that I earned the other night while praying (for those of you who didn't read the post below, I engage in full-contact prayer) I have yet another new injury.

You see, several weeks ago I ordered a beautiful set of Calphalon knives. Gorgeous blades, really, and while they certainly aren't executive chef quality they are still an enormous improvement over our other utensils.

So I was preparing supper last night when, in a fit of magnanimity, I decided to slice some apples for the baked Brie I had prepared. In the midst of slicing (oh so easily, thanks to the knife) I basically removed a really good portion of my thumb. I can only imagine how much more exponentially painful it would have been had I used a dull knife so, I reckon I'm a mite bit lucky that I had a lovely new knife to take a nice hunk of skin off of my finger.

Moral of the story: Calphalon knives a…

Sitting in the Rec Room

I write this from the Rec Room where my Rector - Father Vincent Sullivan, SJ - is learning how to upload material to Blogger.

In his honor, I include this video that Drew Marquard, SJ, has created as a contribution to

Off the Ball

Several months ago I purchased a physio ball. You know the kind: those HUGE balls that kids love to kick around and adults love to buy because it seems like a cool, and harmless, piece of workout equipment. Anyway, I really enjoyed using it for stretching and for my abs, so when I returned to the Bronx I brought my ball with me.

Well, I had some time in between dinner and watching a movie so I thought I'd go to my room to pray. In the still silence of my room, I had a great idea: "Boy Ryan, wouldn't it be cool to pray on the ball? You could balance yourself on it like some Zen-master and look like Yoda as you commune with God." And so I alighted upon the ball, drawing my legs up underneath me and I sat triumphantly on the ball for several moments. Assured of my stability, I closed my eyes and tried to relax.

That seems to have been my mistake. For upon relaxing, the ball shifted and I began to wobble to-and-fro upon it. With my legs pinned beneath me, I had little chan…

Semester Plans

It's hard to believe that I've been back in NYC for nearly a month and that classes are now entering their third week. Time seems to fly by so quickly and I'm ashamed that I've not been more vigilant about posting updates on the blog. It just seems as though I've not been doing anything blog-worthy!

I do want to share, however, some of the ministry opportunities that I'm going to active in this semester. First, I am again teaching the high-powered and rigorous "Introduction to the Irish Tin Whistle" course here at Fordham. I've also been asked to offer the course at Fordham Prep and I'll meet with the principal on Wednesday to discuss what shape that will take.

I am particularly excited about a new venture entitled "Faces of Catholicism." As I described it in an email

Faces of Catholicism" will be a bi-weekly group of students who will
attend a diverse array of liturgies throughout New York City. Whether
we celebrate the Eucharist wi…

Some Tunes from Omena

New Link

Before I head off to the gym, I wanted to alert readers to the following blog:

Jesuit Tertianship in the Phillippines

maintained by Father Ray Guiao, SJ, an alumnus of and teacher at my own Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio.

Of this experience he writes:

Lots of people ask me, "What exactly are you going to the Philippines for?" My answer to them is, "I'll be doing my Jesuit Tertianship there." And after scratching their heads, they go ahead and ask, "What's Jesuit tertianship?" Here's a simple explanation.

Jesuit tertianship is the final phase of training for a Jesuit. It is a program that usually lasts seven to nine months, and it is a requirement for all Jesuits (priests and brothers) prior to pronouncing final vows in the Society of Jesus. There are currently about 27 Jesuit tertianship programs all over the world for Jesuits who are invited to this final phase of training. While a few tertianship programs exist in the U.S., I very …

The Sally Gardens

Forthcoming Publication

I was just informed that my article "Being in the Face of Nameless Mystery: Levinas and the Trace of Doctrine" has been accepted into the January 2008 issue of the Heythrop Journal. The referee wrote of the article

This is an erudite and clearly thought out defense of Karl Rahner's doctrine of God against the charge of reduction or assimilation of the transcendence of God into the experience by man of his own finitude, using cleverly Levinas' distinction of the saying, said, and unsaying to defend a limited capacity to speak about the wholly 'Other' while recognizing at the same time the limits of our conceptual tools. The author shows real potential for the future.

This is really exciting news for me and I really wanted to share it with my readers. It's a great affirmation to know that others appreciate your theological reflection, particularly when engaging in theological reflection is what one wants to do with his life!

Is it time for school yet?

Before I head off to Mass, I thought I'd post a quick update. Since I've not really done anything of note this last week - read a few books, bought an exercise ball, napped - there's not been much to blog about. With classes resuming on Wednesday, however, I expect to have more to kvetch about within the next week!

I'm having a little dinner get-together for some friends tonight. On the menu:

Mixed greens salad with bleu cheese crumbles and cranberries
Four-Cheese Orzo with Fresh Basil
Lemon-Pepper Chicken with gravy served over grilled herbed-polenta
Garlic/Spinach/Parmesan stuffed Portobello mushrooms

and, for dessert, we have caramel brownies a la mode.

It's not necessarily a spectacular meal, but I'm hoping for it to be fun and tasty. I found some frozen imitation crab meat that I'd like to turn into some sort of appetizer dip, but that's only if I can find the time.

While we're on the topic of recipes, let me encourage one and all to check out JesuitRe…


I make no apologies: I am an indoor Jesuit. I certainly appreciate nature and I like to spend time outside, but I hate direct sunlight and I hate being dirty. I don't care much for bugs or creatures and the prospect of poison ivy and being mauled by a bear keep me from the woods!

So it is odd that I do have a fondness for Omena, Michigan. Omena, as some of you are aware, is where many Jesuits in the Chicago and Detroit provinces spend two weeks each summer for vacation. It is true that up until regency men are required to attend, but it does seem that the vast majority of guys enjoy spending two weeks in this oh-so-rustic environment.

I'd like to post, then, a few pictures of "Young Jesuits at Play." I should like to think that many readers will know the Jesuits as men of prayer, so I'd be remiss if I didn't broaden that horizon to show some images of us enjoying ourselves. I only had my camera for one evening, so these were taken the last night of villa as we …

Back in the Bronx

Well, I'm back in the Bronx. We've been working to welcome the new men who moved into Ciszek after professing first vows and I just finished preparing breakfast for the community (cranberry vanilla blintzes, creme brulee French toast, fruit salad, Drew's sausage casserole, and oatmeal). I smell of Canola oil and sugar and need desperately to take a shower.

As many of you know, Michael and Brian English were featured on YouTube last week. I don't know how it came about, but I was most pleased to see the overwhelmingly positive response to their duet. If you've not seen it before, it is here:

You'll note, also, that I had to disable the comments function on the YouTube site. For some reason, there are purported adults out there who felt it was their right to disparage two minors for their music. It's been a galling experience to read and moderate the comments, ranging from AMAZING! to a person who wrote what some might read as a threat (that comment is being i…

8 Things About Me

Alan, a fellow blogger from Thoughts on the Journey has invited me to post eight facts or habits about me that (I guess) people don't already know. Here are the rules:

"The rules are simple…Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog."

1. Fact: I am a Jesuit
2. Habit: When I'm at home in Cleveland, I go for bagels and coffee every morning.
3. Fact: I play and teach Irish music
4. Habit: I still put "A.M.D.G." (For the Greater Glory of God) on every paper I write...we were told to do so in high school (St. Ignatius) and its a habit I've maintained.
5. Fact: I love to cook. I want to write a cookbook for desserts called "Dessert Mysticism"
6. Habit: I b…


If you're coming here from YouTube (having seen Mike and Brian doing their cross-handed duet) and you want to learn to play Irish music on the tin whistle, I would suggest:

If you're in Cleveland, leave a message or email Brian Holleran at:

Brian is a brilliant tin whistle/flute/uilleann pipe player and he's a great teacher. Drop him a line if you're interested in lessons!

Think Jesuit

If you've ever considered a vocation with the Society of Jesus, then perhaps you should

Think Jesuit.

This is a new tri-province initiative combining the resources of the Detroit, Chicago, and Wisconsin provinces of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).

Check it out!

Uncle Ryan

I'd like all of you to join in wishing Congratulations to Colin and Charity (Colin is my brother) on the birth of Emma Elizabeth Duns. 7 lbs 9 ounces and 19" in of height, she was born yesterday afternoon. This is our first grandchild/niece in our family and I'd ask all of you for prayers for her health!

Omena Update

We just finished our annual Softball Game against some of the local players from Sutton's Bay. Alas, I did not play this year - I opted instead to offer sideline commentary and good cheer (in addition, I should mention, the beverages were kept along the first-base line).

Now, while I do have some internet access, I suspect that I'll spend more time working on my bun...errrr,, melanoma. One of the sad consequences of balding is that my head actually burns. My Head! It's really gross to have a peeling head so I wear a bandanna or cap most days to protect my poor scalp.

Long story short: unless something really nifty happens, I'll not blog until about August 13th. I do want to talk about my retreat at some point very soon, but I think I'd rather spend time with my brother Jesuits than blogging!

Best to all!

Summer Hiatus

Now that my initial study of German-for-Reading is complete, I will be going to Milwaukee to play at two Irish dancing competitions. I return on Sunday to begin my retreat here in Chicago. Then, on the 30th, I'll head off to Omena for my vacation.

So I'll not be posting over the next two weeks, or at least not until the July 31st. Please pray for me as I make my retreat and know that I will pray for you.

Small Caveat

As many of you know, I'm doing several book reviews on this site. These are intentionally non-academic reviews. I have neither the space nor the desire to engage in systematic dissection of texts on my blog. In reviewing books for DoubleDay I choose to review those books that I think are pertinent and relevant to those who might read my blog. DoubleDay is not paying me and I won't review a book unless I think people might actually be interested (or warned against) reading it.

So a "lens" through which I read these texts is "Will this be helpful to one of my readers?" If it is going to help you pray, to understand your relationship to God better, or to become more knowledgeable about your faith, then I'll probably give it a good review. Since no one's career rests on my review, I can afford to be positive about various works. I don't want to give a book report or a synopsis; rather, I want only to say what I read, give the gist of it, and say som…

Opus Dei

There are few organizations as polarizing as Opus Dei in the Roman Catholic Church. Made (in)famous in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code its membership of around 85,000 persons seems to attract a disproportionate amount of attention.

Veteran Vatican reporter John Allen has done, consequently, a great service to those interested in learning more about "The Work" in his estimable book Opus Dei.

Let me begin with a caveat: I began reading this book with a presupposition that I would come away thinking less of Opus Dei. Interestingly, Allen's balanced treatment highlights many of the positive qualities and characteristics of Opus Dei while at the same time acknowledging shadowy areas in its practices.

The book is partitioned into four main sections: the Essentials of Opus Dei, Opus Dei from the Inside, Question Marks About Opus Dei, and finally a Summary Evaluation. Each section relies heavily on information provided both by current and former members of Opus Dei. This has led…

Newflash: The Pope is Meaningless! (It's news to me, too!)

For those of you who read, you'll have probably seen this charming little piece by journalist Roland S. Martin.

You really have to read the whole article for yourself, but it is really quite interesting. But the analytic part of my brain did a double-take at his line of argument:

Yet as I reflect on my years as a Catholic, it pretty much was a wasted experience, as there was more identification with the church, and not with Christ.

And that's why Pope Benedict XVI is meaningless, along with his decision to re-state the primacy of the Catholic Church.

Now, I think his whole piece is completely stupid. But tell me how this argument hangs together? Writing out of HIS experience, he feels that HIS experience of Catholicism led more to an identification with the Church than with Christ. THEREFORE, the Pope is meaningless.

In MY experience, I am a complete failure at tackle football. In MY experience, it led more to an identification with a Crash-Test Dummy than it did with Don S…

Book Review

For my first book review, I'd like to recommend "Mother Angelica's Little Book of Life Lessons and Everyday Spirituality."

This book finds its place in the long and venerable line of spiritual direction as exhibited by the Desert Mothers and Fathers. These wisdom figures would often receive visitors who would hail them with the greeting, "Abba, give me word of salvation." The Abba or Amma would then tell a story or give a short saying to the person. Such sayings or stories were not spontaneous aphorisms or Chinese fortunes, but rather the result of many hours of prayer and reflection.

Are you struggling with a long-held resentment over some slight you have suffered? Let us take this to Mother!

Gruge-Holder: "Mother, Give me a word of salvation! I am beset with a long-held grudge"

Mother Angelica: "Don't waste your time in life trying to get even with your enemies. The grave is a tremendous equalizer. Six weeks after you all are dead, you'…

Up to my eyeballs

Sorry for not posting more often; I really have been up to my eyeballs in German. We're heading into the home-stretch of study and with only 2.5 weeks to go, I'm hoping I'll have the energy to finish it out! My head is swimming with overloaded adjective constructions and modal verbs...oh, how I long for the easy days of Rahner!

In From France

I just thought I'd post this link to a web page run by the French Jesuits. It is a page discussing the various ways Jesuits are using YouTube. You'll see a familiar face at the top of the page!

More Fun at the Fair

As some of you know, if a person makes a complaint about something or someone at a feis, he or she is able to file a formal complaint with the feis.
Normally one writes out the infraction and then includes
some nominal fee say, for instance, $10.00.

Now in addition to the irate parent I highlighted in my last post, it has come to my attention that another complaint was filed. Apparently one of the dancers didn't care too particularly well for one of the tunes I played for him. His formal complaint is that I played a reel tainted with Scottish influence. As this is a competition for traditional Irish dancers, he has charged that I impeded his ability to execute his dainty steps by not playing fully traditional Irish music. You can see my accuser pictured here.

As I said, at a normal feis one would just submit a check and a written complaint and the complainer would feel like he/she had been listened to and the feis would be satisfied with an extra $10.00. Well, this …

Oh The Places You'll Go!

The title of the Dr. Seuss book Oh, the Places You'll Go certainly seems to capture well the life of a Jesuit. Two summers ago we took a road trip to Denver where we studied Jesuit history for a month. One year ago at this time I was in Lima, Peru studying Spanish and learning to see the presence of God in a third-world milieu. This summer, I'm studying German in Chicago. While this summer may seem far less glamorous than my previous two, I now have pictorial evidence to the contrary.

As many of you know, I play the accordion for Irish dancers. Last Monday I received a desperate phone call asking me to come out to Irvine, California to play at an Irish dancing competition. Never one to turn down a trip across the country, I accepted the invitation and I played both Saturday and Sunday at the Feis at the Fair. So what made this event extraordinary?


I spend much of my day in the same position:

You can tell by the look of studied concentration on my face that I am thinki…

Mired in Verbs

My "German for Reading Knowledge" course began yesterday and I've already spent many hours cramming German verbs and grammatical structures into my brain. It'll be a challenging course of studies, I reckon, but I am pretty confident that my ability to read German will increase exponentially over these next few weeks.

I haven't any idea as to how often I'll be able to update this blog. I'm going to go to California this weekend to play at a feis, so I need to be very diligent with my German so that I can lose two days of studying in order to travel/play. I hadn't planned on attending this feis but the organizer is down a musician and can't find anyone else to play. So, I'm going to sacrifice myself by going to LA for a weekend. It's a rough life, I know.

Another Weekend Away

This weekend I'll be playing at the Chicago Feis (held at Gaelic Park) and then I'll move into the Jesuit Community located in Hyde Park, IL. As many of you know, on Monday I will begin an intensive 5-week course in "German for Reading" so that, when all is said and done, I'll be able to read Karl Rahner, SJ in his native tongue.

Since I don't have a public site-counter running on this site, I thought I might mention that we've had nearly 1,000 visitors each day since I posted my (now infamous?) letter. I'd just like to share a few brief thoughts:

First, thank you to all who have commented here. I am glad that my observations and sentiments are striking a chord with many of you. I tried to be as fair and as balanced as possible while still trying to say something. I'm glad, then, to know that what I said has resonated with the experience of many.

Second, I am aware of the (inconsequential) discussion that has taken place on The Irish Dancing Message …