Showing posts from August, 2010


One of the great graces of my life in the Society of Jesus has been all of the ways I've been stretched to grow in unimaginable ways. Were it not for the Society, I would probably never have learned how to cook. Were it not for the Jesuits, I probably would never have had the opportunity to maintain a blog such as this or to offer Irish music courses online. Heck, were it not for the brotherhood of the Society, I would never have gone to the gym or decided to train for and run a marathon.

So when new opportunities arise, I am pretty open to embracing them since every new opportunity just *might* uncover a latent gift or talent or passion. On Friday night, I was with several colleagues at a great bar in the city of Detroit - the Temple Bar - where we had a couple of drinks and toasted the beginning of the school year. As the night wore on, I grew excited when I saw how few people were in the bar AND that there would be Karaoke that night. For a few moments, a glimmer of hope past t…

We Believe in Things Seen and Unseen

When it comes to the topic of ghosts and paranormal activity, I've always been of an open mind. Each week for nearly thirty years (I reckon I didn't recite the Nicene Creed until I was about seven) I have heard or recited the line:

We believe in God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.
Until recently, I've had no reason to believe either in the existence or non-existence of ghosts: as none had ever made contact with me, I had no reason to render a judgment. No reason, that is, until this last week.
The other night, while on the first floor of our building, I was chatting with the superior in his office. I reclined on the couch and was looking out the small window cut into his door when I saw a figure walk past. Under the assumption that we were alone in the hallway, I went over the door, opened, and looked into the corridor: on either end, the hallway was empty. I know that I saw something move past the window and that it wasn…

A Bit of Context

I posted the other night two videos shot in the kitchen at m parents' house. Several years ago, my brother-in-law and I took a notion to record a tin whistle video entitled "Boys in the Hoodies."

So it seemed only fitting that, three years later, we do an encore presentation at my niece Emma's third birthday party. It was fun recording them on the fly - we hadn't rehearsed - and I do hope you enjoy them.

Cleveland Irish Music: Shelly's Kitchen

Lark in the Morning

The Kids are All Right

In an effort to escape the heat and humidity last night, another Jesuit and I decided to go to the movies. We decided to drive over to Royal Oak and see the 8:00 showing of the newly-released The Kids are All Right. Starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo, it is a well-crafted story about a lesbian couple - Nic and Jules, played by Bening and Moore - each of whom used sperm from the same donor in order to have children.

The daughter, Joni, has just turned 18 at the start of the movie. Her brother, Laser, importunes her to "make the call" to the sperm bank their moms had use; he, we realize, is the one initially most keen on meeting his biological father. Joni eventually acquiesces and contact is made with Paul, played by Ruffalo, who owns a co-op farm and a restaurant.

Understandably, Nic and Jules are not entirely enthusiastic about their kids making contact with "the sperm donor." Nevertheless, they agree to meet him and invite him over for dinner…

Reason and Faith, II

I would briefly like to use the Gospel of John to meditate a bit further on the relationship between reason and faith. Actually, I would like to use two small snippets - two questions, really - that I see as serving as bookends to this Gospel. While they certainly were not intended to do so, I think they speak eloquently and powerfully to the situation so many believers and nonbelievers find themselves in today.

John's Gospel opens with the beautiful Prologue that is so familiar to our ears: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." We are then introduced to John the Baptist, the figure who is sent by God to testify to the Light who has been sent to pierce the darkness of the world.  As Jesus passes John and two of his disciples, he tells them that this Jesus is the Lamb of God. This must have caused enough of a commotion that it prompted Jesus to open his mouth for the first time in the Gospel, leading him to ask, "What are y…

Reason and Faith

The New York Times has recently begun a forum called The Stone to feature the writings of contemporary philosophers. As one who is preparing to teach a senior-level course in philosophy, I've been keeping an eye on these columns in the hope that they'll furnish a few "read and comment" opportunities for my students. In general, these are well-written, smart, and interesting pieces that try to make complex philosophical thought intelligible to a larger, non-specialized, audience.

This week's contribution comes from Professor Gary Gutting who teaches philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. It's an interesting piece, and I suggest that you read it in full. His piece, and the numerous comments it has given rise to, has encouraged me to reflect for a few moments on the relationship between philosophy and faith.

I, with Professor Gutting, reject immediately any recourse to the line "it's a matter of faith." This is a cowardly response, generally a…

Note from Nadal

Every now and again, I hear from people that the "Society of Jesus has lost its way." They decry the focus on a "Faith that does Justice" and they offer embittered wishes that the Society would go back to its old ways, the ways of the good old days...whatever those were.

Perhaps it is true that in the 1940's and 1950's, the nostalgic "Golden Era" of American Catholicism that there was a marked lack of focus on justice (although, if you read the incisive work of Father Mark Massa, SJ you'll realize that things weren't so Golden after all). It has long been be my contention that this was anomalous in the history of the Society of Jesus and that the original impulse of the Society of Jesus addressed the needs both of the soul and the body (Ignatius did, after all, found a house for prostitutes and begged money for to feed the hungry).

Last night, Father Walter Farrell of the Detroit Province delivered a profound homily on the originating impu…

Fill In the Blank

Yesterday, I encouraged a renewed sense of charity by citing Saint Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises. I'd like to take my own advice and "help a brother out" this morning.

My brother in the Lord over at Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit- Joseph Fromm - sometimes forgets to include the entirety of a quote he puts up on his blog. Quoting from another, Fromm quotes an exchange between the original author of the story and the venerable Father Hardon, SJ:

When my high school friend (not I) expressed an interest in the priesthood, Father Hardon offered advice: "I wish that I could recommend you apply to the Society of Jesus," he said in his careful way. "I love the order, and wish it could be saved. But I cannot in good conscience send any young man into its seminaries."
This quote has elicited several comments to the effect that many Jesuits cannot/will not encourage vocations because it will endanger the faith of young men (while these Jesuits, who so fear for t…