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Showing posts from November, 2009

Aren't Holidays Supposed to be Relaxing?

For weeks, I looked forward to the Thanksgiving Holiday with great excitement. This would be the first year that I would eat Thanksgiving dinner with my family. This would be the first year that I wouldn't fly to either Chicago or Columbus on a pre-dawn flight on Black Friday in order to begin playing for a three-day long Irish dancing competition. This would be the first year that I would have a six-day vacation from school: in addition to Thursday and Friday, our school also had Wednesday and Monday off.
Visions of sleeping in and having a restful holiday proved, alas, to be delusional. Far from relaxing, I had rather exhilarating week: I visited with Jesuit friends and classmates, watched a bizarrely interesting zombie movie, played for hundreds of Irish dancers, saw old Irish dancing friends and colleagues, became re-acquainted with the "Chocolate Martini" as an after-dinner drink, and drove across most of northern and middle Ohio.
In short, I'm exhausted.
And I st…

It's Not All About You

I have spent the last few weeks reading C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity with my seniors. It's a remarkable little book: clearly written, engaging, with very short chapters. As my post from yesterday should indicate, my indebtedness to Lewis for giving me an imaginative tableau for my Christianity certainly predisposes me toward loving any of his works.
Book III of Mere Christianity takes as its overarching topic the issue of Christian Behavior. He begins by recounting "a story about a schoolboy who was asked what he thought God was like. He replied that, as far as he could make out, God was "The sort of person who is always snooping round to see if anyone is enjoying himself and then trying to stop it."Lewis writes that in his own era, just around 1943, this is the image of God that seems to have taken hold of popular imagination. If my experience with high school and college students is any indication, this image of God still holds sway.
If this distorted image o…

Disenchanted by the Gospel

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Years ago, before I entered the Jesuits, I went to a local bookstore to purchase a newly released book in the Harry Potter series. While I was standing in line, a well-intentioned customer eyed the book under my arm (which I carried, if memory serves me correctly, with a paperback copy of the Catechism that I wanted to buy) and promptly informed me that the book I was holding contained "the devil." With feigned horror I allowed the book to drop to the floor and stared at her, exclaiming, "Good Lord! So that's where he's been all this time!" I then picked the book back up and made my way to the cashier.
One of the reasons I liked the Harry Potter books so much is that, many years before any students took up residence at Hogwart's, my heart and mind had been captivated by a different magician: C. S. Lewis. As a little boy in the second grade (so we're talking 1987-88), I remember distinctly my mom giving me a copy of his The Lion, the Witch, and the Wa…

God is like...

Over the last few weeks, one of the main topics we've discussed in our New Testament/Christology course has been the importance of parables. Coming from the Greek word meaning "comparison," we often experience the parables as powerful teachings shared with his listeners by Jesus to show what the Kingdom of God is like. I taught the students that the parable are "atomic bomb" stories - they should shatter our pre-conceived notions of God and their radiation should penetrate into the very core of our being. Too often, however, we banalize the parables and make them quaint little tales rather than experiencing them as the irruptive and challenging teaching moments Jesus intended them to be.
So this week, instead of a weekly sermon, I invited the students to write their own parables or short-sayings about God and the Kingdom. Some of them were mediocre: not a few typed in "God is like..." into Google, scrolled, down a few, and cut-and-paste the answers in…

Poison or Medicine?

Over the last two weeks, I have received three correspondences from an anonymous blogger who has raised questions I think it would be helpful to address.
First, Anonymous is concerned with the "fundamental lack of seriousness about your Jesuit recipes and whistle-playing and inordinate self-abosorption...". I never would have thought that sharing one's passions for food and for Irish music would manifest a lack of seriousness or be considered a measure of frippery [<-- a too seldom used word].
This should go without saying: this is, of course, my blog. When I set out to maintain it, it was with the purpose of sharing the story of one Jesuit's formation. By its nature, it is a blog focused on a central character. If that is considered self-absorption, then I reckon I'm guilty. But it would seem that the whole project does necessitate that in order to tell of "A Jesuit's Journey" there needs to be a Jesuit to narrate it. On this site, I am that Jes…

What was lost...

I often joke that, before I entered the Jesuits, I led the life of a rock-star accordion player. In some ways, this is hyperbolic: "rock-star accordion player" is an oxymoron! Nevertheless, in the world of Irish dancing, I had earned a solid reputation as being a good musician for Irish dancers. Consequently, many organizers of feiseanna, or Irish dancing competitions, would invite me to play at their events.
One evening, about seven years ago, I was forced to take an early-ish flight to a city in the Mid-West. I arrived at the hotel early, unpacked, but was too restive to take a nap. So I did what any reasonable extrovert would do: I headed down to the hotel bar to see if any of the other Irish dancing teachers/musicians/adjudicators had arrived. Much to my chagrin, I was the first to have arrived.
Never being one to allow being on his own to deter him, I sidled up to the bar and ordered a drink and asked for a menu. The bar itself was thoroughly unremarkable: small bowls of…

New Protocol

Some of you will notice that if you want to make a comment on the blog, it'll have to be approved by me before it gets published.
As one of the comments (now deleted) noted, I do have a hard time finding time to teach and play Irish music and do all sorts of other things. I simply do not have the time to babysit my blog, deleting silly posts when they appear.
Thanks!
November 8th: If you want your post to be published, or to be taken seriously, include your name on it. I'm not interested in dialoguing with anonymous posters.

All Saints and Blessed of the Society of Jesus

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On November 5th, the Church remembers the the Saints and Blessed who have lived their Christian vocations as Companions of Jesus. Please join your prayers with mine as we remember all those Saints and Blessed of the Society of Jesus....those who have come before us and those who live among us now.


A Prayer for Vocations
Father, in the name of Jesus, through the power of your Spirit, inspire men and women to labor for your kingdom.
We especially as you through the intercession of Mary, our Mother, St. Ignatius, and all the saints, to help the Society of Jesus continue its service of your church.
May your will be done.
Amen.

Time Magazine

Several weeks ago, I heard the exciting news that Time magazine would be doing a story about the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy. Time is doing a year-long examination of the city of Detroit and is trying to highlight points of hope within the city.
The link to the online version of the article (printed in this week's edition) is here. The story is entitled "Jesuit Message Drives Detroit's Last Catholic School." Written by Amy Sullivan, the piece does a nice job calling attention to the commitment of the Society of Jesus to the city of Detroit.
It should be mentioned, to be fair, that there are two other Catholic secondary schools in Detroit: Loyola High School and Cristo Rey. These schools, however, were started post-1967 (after the Race Riots that tore the city apart) and, technically speaking, U of D Jesuit is the last school remaining of the schools that once flourished in the city.