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Showing posts from December, 2010

End of the Year

It was with great hope and some enthusiasm that I sat down last Saturday (the 18th) and conceived of offering a blow-by-blow account of my family's Christmas. In years past, both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day have been occasions of much frivolity and tended to instance at least several noteworthy events.

This year, however, I fell sick with the flu last Wednesday morning and it took longer than I'd have expected to recover. Hence Christmas this year was a more...sober affair than usual.

A few fun happenings over my break:


Getting sick at Panera (last Wednesday) and then apologizing to the manager for the state I left the bathroom. The look of relief on her face was astonishing: "Well, as long as you're not blaming the food, that's okay."Netflix is the greatest invention. Ever. I watched all of the available Charlie Chan movies while sick in bed. I then went on to watch a bunch of documentaries and even managed to get in a screening of The Bells of Saint Mary…

Merry Christmas!

I had such hopes of writing several posts this week. These hopes were dashed against the hard rocks of the flu that has kept me in bed since Wednesday. I ventured out last night and saw my family but it might have been premature and I paid for it through the night last night. So I'm going to take it easy today: I have one thing yet to pick up for a Christmas gift and then I'll join my family for Mass later in the evening.

Please be assured of my prayers - I've not much else to do as I sit here in bed - on this Eve of the Savior's birth!

The Church is a Process

The great Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe writes in The New Creationthat the
...process by which the world grows to maturity in Christ is the Church. The Church, as we shall see, is not a thing, it is a process in time. (18)His insight has been percolating in my heart and mind these last few days of vacation and, this morning, I'd like to offer a few comments upon it.

I frequently lament the lack of charity on the part of Catholic bloggers. Dr. Jeff Mirus, just this week, mused over at CatholicCulture.org that he is tempted to end each of his writings with "this very particular truism: The Jesuits must be reformed." In his writings, Dr. Mirus bandies about the label of Modernism - a slippery, unwieldy word that he doesn't take the time to pin down the precise way in which he uses it - and decries the failings of the Society of Jesus. Reading his piece, one would get the sense that there is but a small remnant of faithful Jesuits out there and that the rest (of us?…

When are the Jesuits going to be Catholic?

I met some friends - guys I've not seen in very many years - this morning for coffee. We ordered our beverages (you can tell we're all growing up by our common order: regular coffee, black) and set about the business of catching up. We chatted of families, weddings, deaths, births of children, and the passing of loved ones. New jobs, career changes, and fears for the future peppered the discussion, too, and it was great to hear the stories and see how the lives of my friends had unfolded since we graduated in 1998.

At a certain point, the conversation turned to my decision to enter the Society of Jesus. "When," one of my friends asked, not without a barbed edge, "are the Jesuits going to be Catholic?"

Now I don't think he meant this to be offensive but, all the same, it cut a bit. Normally, I let these little jabs go but, being fueled by caffeine, I thought to pursue the issue. With no small amount of irritation lacing my voice, I asked him, "What…

Cleaning Out the YouTube Bin

As the views of my videos posted to YouTube approach 3,000,000 it has become harder and harder to keep up with the deluge of email I receive daily. Granted, there are some single videos that have many millions of views; my videos, many instructional in nature, don't simply occasion comments but also elicit numerous emailed questions and comments from viewers.

Arising early this morning, I set about going through nearly a thousand emails that have come in over the last two months. In the craziness of school and my other obligations, I have had to sacrifice the attention these people deserve. I feel somewhat guilty over it but it can't be helped: there is only one of me and I need to put my (live) students first!

So as I went through the emails that had been addressed to me personally, I plucked out a few of the gems to share with my readers:


Dear soon-to-be Father Ryan,                 Can you do exorcisms? My son is possessed and I need someone                  to get the demon …

Do you hear what I hear?

If you strain hard enough, you might still hear the weeping and gnashing of my students' teeth. I'll admit it: I'm the Grinch teacher who assigns homework over Christmas break. My seniors have to read about sixteen pages of Fear and Trembling and my sophomores have to write a five-paragraph reflection...that has to be turned in online by Friday, December 24th.

You heard it right: I made something due on Christmas Eve. Next to decapitating Santa Claus or turning Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer into road kill, there seems to be no graver offense possible for a teacher. In my defense, I justify my actions accordingly:


Their assignment is to write on one of the Gospel readings that they will hear at Christmas Mass. It sort of defeats the purpose to have them write a reflection that they would give on Christmas AFTER the fact. I want them to read and think about the readings BEFORE they hear them. If I make it due on January 4th, most will wait until January 3rd to write it. In t…

Twas the Week Before Christmas...

So I have left Detroit and rest now in the living room of the Duns family's ancestral home...well, it'll be our descendants' ancestral home, at least.

At the moment, I'm watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hill with my sister. I feel sorry for these women: they seem to live such vapid, uninteresting lives. This particular episode showcased a dinner party held by Kelsey Grammer's (now ex) wife. The mother and aunt of Paris Hilton attended as did a Medium. By Medium I mean one who purports to communicate with the dead; I haven't any idea what size she wears.

I mention this because I suspect the producers of the show must work hard to make these women's lives appear mildly interesting. They should come and videotape my family in Cleveland: we're every bit as dysfunctional and almost certainly more entertaining. If I can manage it, I'll try to keep folks updated as the week unfolds: since I'll be here all week, I should have plenty of time to po…

Snow Day

There are so few words or phrases in the English language as capable of sending a frisson of joy and excitement through the student body as the phrase, "Snow Day." Last night, a little after 9:00 pm, the decision was made to cancel school today due to icy driving conditions and single-digit temperatures.

It is nice to sleep in two hours later than usual, to eat a leisurely breakfast, and to ponder the ways in which this gift of a day might be spent. Shall I read my book? Go to the gym? Watch television? Plot the downfall of my enemies? Who knows, who cares! The day is ripe with possibilities, with untold chances for enjoyment and rest.

I recall Advent of last year being so much more chaotic. A first-year teacher with three different courses, I spent as much of my time trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing as I did actually doing anything. I'm grateful that I'm a pretty quick study so that this year I have a good senes of my role as a teacher and Senate…

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High schoolers’ service benefit community

Here's an article from the Michigan Catholic about this year's "U of D Jesuit Pledge Detroit!" initiative. As of this morning, this effort has raised over $153,000 for our students!

High schoolers’ service benefit community

Already into Advent!

It's hard to believe that the whirlwind travels of the Thanksgiving Holiday - Chicago and Tampa - are now behind me and that, two weeks from now, I'll be back in Cleveland for Christmas Vacation. This semester has flown by so quickly...come January, I realized last night, I'll reach the half-way point of my regency. 1.5 years down, 1.5 to go. Sobering to think about!

This week, we begin sales of the Winter Spirit Shirt. I'll post a picture of them later, after each one has been folded and neatly stacked for sale (I sometimes wonder, with the amount of things I sell for the Senate, whether I'm a moderator or a wholesaler).

I'm very much looking forward to Christmas vacation this year. Our last day of school is the 17th, so I get nearly a full week of pre-Christmas preparation time this year. I'll have a lot of papers to grade - 35 philosophy papers come due on the 17th - but I'll also have time to do things I enjoy: run, yoga, read, and make cookies.

I …