Showing posts from November, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I 've been up since 5:30 this morning when I gave my turkey one more 'turn' before tossing it into the oven at 9:00. It has since been removed and is a gorgeous golden-brown: Norman Rockwell would be proud!
It is good for us all to pause and reflect on the many ways each of us is blessed. Interestingly, what we in the United States mark out as a once-per-year holiday is, within the Christian tradition, an everyday event: for we are invited to celebrate the Eucharist. Rather than one day set aside for reflection on the ways we've been blessed, each day becomes consecrated to reflecting upon what God is doing in our lives and it affords us an opportunity to respond in praise and worship, in Thanksgiving, for what God has done, is doing, and will do. 

I would like to offer a quote for you to reflect upon:
A new age of Christian culture will doubtless understand a little better than one has up to now (and never will the world have finished understanding this, i.e., rejecting …

Of Many Things

I was on the phone with a friend of mine who was lamenting that she had to prepare dinner for twelve people on Thursday. I have spent today preparing the menu, writing the shopping list, and setting a cooking schedule for a dinner for 44 people. In case you're interested in what a Ciszek Hall Thanksgiving Feast looks like:
Sugar Coated PecansStuffed MushroomsCheese & Fruit TrayGreen Bean Casserole (could we actually skip this dish?)Sweet PotatoesMashed PotatoesCranberry SauceStuffingMarsala Glazed Carrots with HazelnutsDinner RollsTwo deep-fried turkeys (each 12-pound) and one 16-pound salted turkeyPumpkin PieApple PieLayered Chocolate DessertSo there's dinner.
I also have really cool wine to offer our guests. Over the summer, I found and purchased a rather delicious Cranberry Riesling that has acted as the inspiration behind the dishes being served. I'll probably offer cru beaujolais as I've heard only good things of it this year. 
I've been doing this work seque…

Special Needs

Just over a week ago, the following question was posed in the comments box:
I am gravely concerned for the my son's soul. He is autistic and non-verbal and mentally impaired. How can he accept Christ? How will I know if he has?My heart has been touched deeply by this question and I have been praying  for several days and I would like now to offer something of a stammering response.
Over the years, it has been your cross to care for your son. To some extent, this is no different from what most parents must do. Mommies and Daddies have, for centuries, bathed, fed, changed, cuddled, corrected, and loved their children. They do this not, of course, so that the child remains dependent on them forever. Rather, they do this so that they may become independent, free to live and to love as adults. Thus it is that the care necessary for an infant is radically different from that needed by a 3-year old, or a seven-year old, or a teenager. While our fundamental needs never change - we always ne…

Blaqrobes Co-Ed Intramural Softball Team

The 2008 Blaqrobes!


Last week I invited people to share what I could do to make my blog better and I was very grateful for both the comments submitted and the emails sent. The irony is that, in light of all of these good questions and ideas, I've been deadly silent!

Fear not. It's been a busy week and things are going to get a bit busier before they calm down. I have two posts almost ready to go up, but I want to make sure I'm saying clearly what i want to articulate. So stay tuned!


Over the last year, I have taken to waking up around 5:00 in the morning, praying, and then spending between 30 and 60 minutes answering questions I receive on YouTube. Naturally the vast majority of questions involve some aspect of playing or learning Irish music: tin whistle techniques, listening suggestions, difficulties learning a particular movement, sometimes the (horrifying) request that I teach with my shirt off (no joke). 
As I wrote the other day, it's not uncommon to receive other types of correspondence. Sometimes it is from a person who is struggling with issues surrounding doubt and belief. These notes run the gamut from downright hostility to my belief in God to people who are straining against darkness to believe again. It amazes me that one of the most popular pages on my own blog is a little bit I wrote on Christian Atheism, a topic I very much wish to return to next Lent. 
With over 1.5 million views on YouTube with viewers coming from all over the globe, I am acu…

The Hagan Family (of 1994)

So can you tell which one I am? Third row, second from the left. I think I was a freshman at Saint Ignatius High School. You'll note two things: I'm heavy and I have hair. 
It's so funny...this was taken just about 14 years ago. A lot has changed: were we to try to re-create this photo, several faces would not be present due to death (Michael, Grandpa Hagan) and several others from divorce. Many other faces would be added: Maura, Emma, Charity, Ben, Anastasia, Diana, Brian, Evi, Coleman, and others.  
On the day after All Soul's Day, it's good to be reminded of those we have loved and who have preceded us into death. I miss my Grandpa Hagan very much and I often wonder what he would have thought of me being a Jesuit. 
I'm grateful that my cousin Erinn Hagan posted this on her Facebook page. This picture hangs in our family room at home, but seeing it online gave me a chance to pause to remember the family who has loved me, and who I have loved, over the years of m…

On Music

I receive many emails each day from people around the world who have found the "Fordham University's Introduction to the Irish Tin Whistle" videos to be helpful. Very often the emails ask for musical help or for me to record some particular tune.

But it's not an irregular experience for me to receive a request of a more spiritual nature. Today, I had such a request which gave me the opportunity to reflect, again, on how I view the relationship between music and prayer. Emending it to preserve the anonymity of the addressee, I'd like to share with you what I wrote:

Dear _________,
Happy belated birthday!
Yesterday your father wrote to me and told me of your growing interest in the tin whistle. I'm humbled to hear that my lessons have been a help to you, but I'm most grateful to hear that you are falling more deeply in love with the tin whistle and the tradition out of which it comes.
I think that it is very hard to be a young person today. It very often seems …

Uncle Ryan wants to brag

Since I don't (nor will I ever) have kids of my own, I reckon it's my prerogative to brag about my niece Emma.
In what is a rare turn, my brother Colin is included in this picture. Colin - Emma's daddy - is two years younger than me and lives and works in Cleveland. 
As you'll note, my brother is a fairly solid guy. Tough (or he'd like you to think). Funny thing to be aware of: he's deathly afraid of clowns. TERRIFIED, really. When we were kids and shared a room, Grandma Hagan put a picture of a Hobo/Clown with a little dog at the end of a leash. Colin was, for years, terrified of this picture - the very picture he slept under from kindergarten through third or fourth grade! I don't quite recall what happened to that picture, but I can't help but note the irony that our Emma has taken her turn as Bozo the Clown for a night.