Wednesday, April 30, 2008

End of April Update

Well, I'm officially finished. I completed my take-home exam today and I've long since finished my term papers. I'll return books to the library tomorrow and then I'm kicking back to read a slew of novels that I've been meaning attend to for some time.

In a rare occurrence, I managed to practice the accordion for several hours today. I've been feeling rather stagnant with my tunes so I've set about expanding my repertoire in order to help me maintain interest in my own playing. Like prayer, learning new tunes is often an arduous process that demands heightened discipline and commitment, repeated failure and missed notes, but the pay-off is greater skill and an ability to express oneself through the music in yet another way. I have about six new ways to express myself, none of which is particularly coherent after the first day of practice...thank goodness I'll have time tomorrow!

I still have a few classes to attend, but that's really no bother. I enjoy the lectures (For the most part) and I'm glad to continue reading Hume, Kant, and Aquinas. 

I have a two-day feis this weekend (Mullane-Healy-O'Brien) in Chicago. So again it's a busy week and an even busier weekend, but it brings me such joy to play for the kids to dance. With any luck, and some rest next week, I'll have more time to post!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Another Weekend Away

In a few short hours, I'll be off to Milwaukee to play a feis tomorrow. Without any delays, I'll be back on Sunday afternoon with just enough time to head into Harlem for the Jazz Mass at Ascension with the "Faces of Catholicism" group I run.

It's been hard to keep my blog updated this last week. I'm trying to wrap up a bunch of little projects (most of which are musically related rather than academic) so that I can enter the summer with very few obligations pressing down upon me. 

Today I heard from a young man here at Fordham who learned that he would be entering the Jesuits this Fall. I'm very excited at this news as he's a great guy. I'd mention names but I haven't asked if I can promulgate his great news. 

Before I head off to the airport, let me invite you all to PRAY for those women AND men in discernment for a religious vocation. They are definitely in need of our prayers!

I was typing quickly and just now (4/30) got around to editing my typos. 

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hobbled

I hope, by next Thursday, to have a group photo of this year's Blaqrobes softball team. Our Co-Ed team has a record of 3-1, which is a vast improvement over last year's record.

So last night, two of our key players were unable to make the game. In fact, one of these players happened to be our pitcher so I was called upon to be the substitute.

Let me say up front: I thank God the team we played wasn't fabulous. I managed to strike 4-5 batters out, including the last batter who had tying runs on the plate.

Sadly, however, there were casualties during the game. During the first inning, as we were batting, a ball thrown from the infield missed its mark and made direct contact with my left ankle. I am now watching news of the Pope's arrival in NYC with my leg up, my ankle banked in a bag of ice.

My ankle is so swollen...it's about 3 times its normal size. I feel like my grandmother, except that I'm not presently afflicted with other 'pains' and I'm not eating Melba toast. But otherwise, we doing about the same.

Alas.

So that's that. I'm just going to sit here and lament my downfall!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tuesday Round-Up

So just a few noteworthy points:

  • Congratulations to Michael English who won the Over-18 Tin Whistle Competition at this year's Mid-Atlantic Fleadh. Michael came in to NYC with my soon-to-be brother-in-law Brian Holleran. Brian is now Mike's teacher and should be congratulated for doing an excellent job. If you're interested in learning to play Irish music and live in the Cleveland area, check out his website: Ciunas
  • Better late than never: my mother, sisters, and one cousin came for a tour of Fordham on April 4th. It was great to show them around the campus and the neighborhood. Trumping my Aunt Cheryl, my mother actually made it through the whole of the Fordham bookstore without falling. 
  • I've nearly completed my plans for the summer. It looks like I'll make my annual retreat in a hermitage in Akron, Ohio, the week after Memorial Day. Then I'll head to Chicago for Province Days, return to Cleveland for my sister's wedding, and then I'm off to Los Angeles to play for a feis. After the feis I'll head down to San Francisco where I'll spend two weeks at Saint Agnes Church before beginning my month-long program in Spiritual Direction at the Mercy Center in Burlingame, California. We'll follow that up with two weeks at Omena, a feis here or there, and then I'll be back for Round Three at Fordham.
  • I'm just about to embark on my days of leisure: I have written all of my papers and have now only to do a final edit and submit them. This is a record: I'll have almost a month of time to do my own pleasure reading, write a book review for the Heythrop Journal, and go to museums. 
So that's it for today. Nothing really profound (is there ever) so to speak, but it gives a sense of what's going on in this Jesuit's journey!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Update

Well, the semester is drawing to a close and I'm nearly done with my papers. I have a few pages more to write for one of my courses and then I'll edit two other papers I've written. So about 8 pages and one German translation exam stand between me and the life of leisure. I can't wait!

Last weekend was my future brother-in-law's bachelor party (it was very safe and Jesuit-appropriate. That means: There was no glitter). This weekend Brian (the fiancee) and Michael English are coming to NYC for the Mid-Atlantic Fleadh ---- which is the regional championships for Irish music. I'm very excited to be going to this tomorrow so, if you can, please say a prayer for Michael as he competes in the 18+ category.

In culinary news, I had a gustatory tryst with Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" this week. I'll not go into the menu's details, but I must extol the virtues of the mousse I prepared. It was, to my mind, perfect. I'd suggest buying the book for this recipe alone. It took a bit of doing but it was certainly worth it.

Oh, I may as well throw this in. As many readers know, since I entered the Jesuits I have become a regular gym goer. This year, Drew and I embarked upon a 6-month workout program. I've been dubious about its success: working out, like praying, is not fast to yield noticeable results.

Well, today I realized an amazing goal: I did pull ups. And when I say pull-ups, I mean I did (after the warm-ups) six of them with forty pounds hanging from my waist. FORTY POUNDS extra! That's a lot, at least to my mind. I mention this because when I was in high school I couldn't do a single pull-up and now, 14 years later, I'm doing very many of them. So for those woefully un-athletic readers, take heart: if I can do it, anyone can!

 

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Reflection for 4/2/08

I thought I'd post this in case anyone was interested.

John 3:16-21

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.



There is an unexpected playfulness in tonight’s gospel. No, there is no reference to Blaqrobe softball or the Nintendo Wii. The playfulness, rather, is between the themes of light and darkness or, if you prefer a fancy word, chiaroscuro. God sent the Son into the world so that all may be saved through him. But as we know from our recent experience of Holy Week, Jesus’ mission of salvation was not met without resistance. The Reign of God he preached was opposed by the Anti-Reign of the powers and principalities of this world; the force of light was confronted with and, it seemed, destroyed by the powers of darkness.

Barely a week out of Easter, does it not seem that the hope and joy of the Risen Christ has begun to fade? Have we not already returned to the daily grind of balancing academics, apostolates, and various social outlets? The light of Christ we saw so clearly on Easter seems now to be absorbed by the shadow of looming papers and projects. And if we turn our eyes beyond the walls of Ciszek, the situation seems all the more dire. Sub-prime mortgage failures, school shootings, and political scandals all point to an apparently inescapable truth: the forces of darkness are winning.

Sometimes I wonder if our world has become so accustomed to the darkness that the promise of a savior is too remote, too distant, and too impossible to hope for.


And then I see shows like Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style on Bravo. For millions of viewers, Tim Gunn is a secular savior. With the aid of his assistant Veronica, Tim enters into the darkest recesses of a woman’s home: her closet. Himself a fashion guru, he forces the woman to make choices either for fashion – better-fitting clothes, a new palate of colors, a different style – or to perdure in her old ways – wearing the same style and cut of jeans, or wearing only baggy sweat clothes.

In short, the light of fashion shines into the darkness of schlumpery and forces a choice: be fashionable or remain woefully dressed.

Tim’s goal in the show is to free each woman to find her own personal style. He helps her to break out of a destructive pattern of dressing and guides her to claim her own signature look, her own way of approaching fashion, with self-confidence and joy.

If millions of viewers glom onto the messiah of fashion, then it makes all the more urgent our own vocations to preach the Word of God in a world that sorely needs to hear its promise of healing and hope. We are to be ministers and stewards of the light, courageously entering ever-new venues so that the works of God can be clearly seen. Our commitment to the light, in turn, will ignite the hearts of others, inciting them to join with us as we work to help souls.

This is not to say that the forces of darkness will succumb easily. We will face challenges, setbacks, and enormous struggles. The cost, for many, will be enormous. But nourished on the Word and the Body of Christ, we will find strength and sustenance for our journey.

Tim Gunn’s signature line, as he guides contestants through various difficulties, is “Make it work.” And then he walks away. Jesus, the true savior, offers us a very different line: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” With that as a pledge, let us take joy and hope in our vocations as Livers of the Light; let these words embolden us all to have the courage to “Make it work” for the Kingdom of God.