Showing posts from July, 2008

A True Character

Every now and again, one has the great fortune to meet a true character. This summer, Jake Martin and I had the great fortune to make the acquaintance of one Sister Mary Eliza Martin, CSC. Without a doubt, Sister Mary Eliza brought more smiles and laughter to these two Jesuits than anyone else at Mercy Center.

She'll probably kill me for posting this, but I think it's a great picture!

The Catholic Touch

I'd like to solicit opinions on a program I'm planning on offering this semester for the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies. Please peruse the document below and feel free to offer criticisms/suggestions.

The Catholic Touch

Over the past two years, the Curran Center has generously sponsored several initiatives aimed at encouraging students to engage more fully the Catholic faith and tradition. We have ranged from “Three Cheers for Catholicism” intended to address topics relevant to contemporary Catholicism (the Regensburg address, the Eucharist, the liturgy) to “Gospel Explorations” to “Faces of Catholicism” to “Faith in Motion.” Each program met with varying degrees of success, to be sure, but prayer and reflection on the fruits of these programs leads me to propose The Catholic Touch for Fall 2008.

Let me begin with an observation. It is often noted that there has been an upsurge in interest in traditional forms of Catholic piety. The Rosary, Stations of the Cross, and…

Praising God In Another Language

Last night, I had the great honor of participating in an African liturgy. Indeed, I was impressed into service as the drummer.

Yep, the drummer.

My parents dashed my childhood dream of being a rock-star drummer when they bought me an accordion. Motely Crue with an accordion? Nahhhhh

Watch and Pray

In the com-box yesterday Laura left the following message:

When I started reading this post, I started saying to myself, "That's me! Hooray! Now I'm going to get some help with my lack lustre prayer. While I think that your recommendation is beautiful and practical for a certain set, I would be interested to know how to achieve the same kind of prayer experience- without imagery. For some reason, I can't even imagine myself brushing my teeth, let alone in the amazing interior of myself. I'm one of those people who thinks in words, not pictures. I can talk, and experience silence, but in my private prayer, I find it hard to experience communion, if you know what I mean.

Laura, let me begin by thanking you for your comment. I don't know that I'll be able to offer much by way of suggestion, but please allow me to try.

Let me begin, again, with a Taize chant.

"Stay with me, remain here with me, watch and pray"

Let us not draw too heavily on i…

Remember Me

I went last night to a Taize prayer service held here at Mercy Center. Leading us in prayer was the venerable Sister Suzanne Toolan, RSM (Religious Sister of Mercy) perhaps known best for the composition of the hymn "I am the Bread of Life." Sister is one of the gentlest, most prayerful souls I have ever encountered. She's also fairly blunt: after impressing me an Jake Martin into service to move a cross, she informed us that "we were not brats" like two other Jesuit scholastics who had been enrolled in the program a few years ago. Knowing that Sister does not consider me "a brat" counts, in my book, as high praise!

Our prayer began last night in the darkness of the chapel. A lone overhead light illuminated the crucifix while several small candles cast their light from the altar. There were quite a few people present: young and old, many of us interns, many of our directees.

The first song we sang may be familiar to you: "Jesus, remember me when yo…

On Prayer

The human heart is, as Saint Augustine put it so eloquently, "restless." Perhaps this is nowhere more obvious than when we take the time out to pray. You may have a similar experience to this: you feel this urge, this complete draw, to settle yourself and to be at one with God. Taking advantage of momentary quiet in the house, you settle into your comfy chair, close your eyes, and begin to pray.

"Hello God!" you cry out.


"Well, I'm here. How're things? It's good to spend time with you. Yep, I'm praying"

-silence -

"Yep, still praying. Oh, do you remember when I mentioned Mr. So-and-So last time? Well, he's better now. And if if you have a moment, could you please do something with Mrs. Whatsit - she's not been feeling well. And my son - Timmy, the short one - well, he needs a job."

-silence -

"Jeez! The television is really dusty. Do you mind if I dust that? I'll be right back." (so you run off to dust th…

Prayer Request

Hello all!

I'd ask your prayers this week for those participating in the Mercy Center's Summer Home Retreat. I have three directees whom I shall meet with once per day for the next five days. This is a great opportunity to accompany another person as a spiritual director for a week of prayer, reflection, and discernment.

So I'd ask that you keep them (and me - this is my first time in this role) in your prayers. Be assured that I'll keep all of you in mine.

What I do on the weekends

I'm usually pretty terrible about remembering to bring my camera to events. This weekend, however, I did remember to bring it along to the Colorado Irish Festival and Feis. So here's the group from this weekend, moving from left to right:
Sally HoustonLaura O'SullivanAnne HallEddie MurphyRyan DunsShawn BolligThis picture was taken after the second day of the feis. An outdoor event, you'll notice that I have a little more color than usual. I keep trying to assure myself that I'm "building a base" but I realize that I'll pretty much go from red back to pasty white by the end of the week.

The weekend was really a lot of fun. It's so refreshing to be with people with whom you share a common love and passion.

I didn't get a clear picture of it, but I would like to mention a little bit about the physical setting of this year's feis.

The festival is held in Littleton, Colorado. Indeed, it is held very near to Columbine High School. The memorial comme…

The Center of Mercy

I arrived on Sunday evening here at the Mercy Center in beautiful Burlingame, California. For the next month, I will be an intern in the Spiritual Direction program.

As this is only the second full day, I don't have TOO much to say. There are issues of confidentiality at play, so I cannot divulge the content of what is said nor do I feel it my place to speak much of my fellow interns. What I can do is write about my own interior movements as they come along. And, since I have wireless access from my bedroom, I suspect that I'll be able to do this without tremendous strain.

I'm off now to morning prayer and then our small-group discussion. There is a great deal of attention to group process and to allowing what is taught, shared, and experienced to 'settle into the marrow of one's bones'. I'm excited for what is in store for me over the next few weeks and I look forward to sharing parts of my own journey with all of you!


In other news:

I'll be pla…

Back in SFO

I've now returned to San Francisco. My return to California was wholly uneventful and I managed to read Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray on the way home. 
This week is the lead-up to my time in Burlingame. I'm excited to begin the program: I'm one of 38 interns this summer, so it should be a large and diverse group of people to be with.
Until then, I'll probably continue to people watch. This city is amazing for its diversity and the strange cast of characters who wander about. If I can get some pictures, I might have to post them!