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Showing posts from August, 2013

You Are Not Alone

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It may come as a surprise to some readers, but one of my preferred spiritual devotions is Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I think it's because a total-sense engaging experience: dimmed lights, flickering candles, a focal point, an atmosphere of silence flooded with the smell of incense.

On occasion I'll go to Adoration and pray the rosary. Those are rare occasions, however. In general, my preference is simply to sit in silence and let my prayer be one for all those in need of prayers at that moment. In the darkness of the church or chapel, I simply try to join myself in prayer to all those who, at that very moment, need to know they are not alone:

The woman attempting to summon the courage to leave an abusive husbandThe young man contemplating suicideThe woman trapped in a sex-trafficking ring The victim of rape or sex abuse attempting to find the courage to report what has happenedThe teenager petrified to come out of the closet to his or her parentsThe person struggling w…

Ahhh, so THAT'S a Teddy?

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Call me benighted, but I always thought a "teddy" was something worn by amorous newlyweds and J Edgar Hoover. Miley's outfit...well, I reckon this wholly redefines the genre.

I'm forced to wonder if this is a case of art imitating life or life imitating art.

In either case, both are pretty nasty.

As someone who considers himself to have a slightly better-than-average sense of the aesthetic, I'll be candid in saying that the entire display made no sense to me. I just didn't get the dancing bears. Perhaps I taught special needs children and have the "Teddy Bear Picnic" song too engrained in my musical marrow.

If nothing else, last night's dancing display does provide something of a public service announcement to parents. When I would prefect high school dances, we did enforce a "No Twerk" policy. Students were given a warning and then, if they were approached again, they'd lose their student ID's. Inappropriate dancing by our st…

A Jesuit's Guide to Sensitive Classroom Discussions

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Every teacher, particularly if the field involves having to discuss moral and social issues, will eventually be confronted with having to discuss a particularly sensitive issue. The range is seemingly infinite: homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research, divorce, welfare, war, immigration. The high school classroom, in particular, is inordinately susceptible to becoming a place of rancorous debate rather than reasoned reflection.

Over three years of teaching, I developed the following Four-Fold Strategy for Sensitive Discussions. My friend Bobby, for whom I composed the Advice to a New Teacher, reminded me last night of this strategy and it spurred me to compose this. As always, if it is helpful: use it. If it doesn't suit your needs: ignore it.

Step One: Set the Stage

Explain to the students that you're all about to engage in a thought exercise. You want to take them through a procedure, a way of thinking, to give them the tools to talk about sensitive issues. No…

Neither Meaningless or Neutral

To live the faith is not to decorate life with a little religion, like a cake is decorated with a little frosting. No! It's not that. Faith entails choosing God as the fundamental criterion of life, and God is neither meaningless nor neutral. God is love!
Remember this: follow Jesus: no one else. To follow Jesus means to be involved, because faith is not something decorative. It is the strength of the soul!
~ Pope Francis 13 August 2013
Just about two weeks ago, I concluded my annual 8-day retreat. If I have still few words to describe how powerful this particular retreat was for me. Graced with a wonderful retreat director and the tranquility of a retreat house, I found it very easy to embrace the 8-days of prayer and reflection. 
The two quotes from Pope Francis resonate strongly with me, particularly in light of my retreat experience. Throughout the week, my director encouraged a simple mantra for prayer: Jesus, you are enough for me. Six little words, to be sure, but they say s…

Why Would a Millennial Become a Priest or a Nun?

This morning The Atlantic published an article featuring quotes from several Jesuits about why young people would desire to dedicate their lives as priests and nuns. If you have a few moments, it's definitely worth reading. It's nice that I know the two Jesuit priests interviewed and I'm friends with both the young man (Matt Ipple) about to enter the Society of Jesus and just met yesterday Danny Gustafson, SJ.

Why Would a Millennial Become a Priest or a Nun?

Go Derek!

So proud to say that I taught the young man featured in this commercial!!

Live on The Jesuit Post

Anyone interested in re-reading a better organized version of my guide to teaching may want to check out

The Jesuit Guide to Teaching: Advice for a New Teacher

A Jesuit's Guide to College

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As students prepare to go off to college, either as first-year students or returners, I'd like to share again something I wrote for my students last year. As most instances of advice, take what is helpful to you and ignore the rest.

I wrote this as a letter to the students of the class of 2012, the last class of seniors I taught at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy. The content of the letter has remained basically the same, although I may have tweaked a point here or there.



Hi Guys,
I hope you're all enjoying what, as I look at the calendar, seem to be the waning days of summer vacation. Most of you will be leaving for school within two weeks.  Make the most of your time with your family these weeks and do your best to prepare for the adventures of college.
It is hard to let the teacher part of me go, so please indulge me once more as I offer a few words of advice. Do as you will with.

1. Books: you need them. DO NOT BUY AT THE BOOKSTORE. You will only …

No Other Choice

So, I'm staying at my sister Torrey's house and watching her dog, Lola, until they come home tomorrow night. Lola is a small dog of some variety and, it appears, she has an anxiety disorder. I've gone from a lifetime of sleeping alone to having this dog climb into bed with me each night; if she's not in the bed, she just barks...and barks...and barks.

The internet is down at their house, so I've come over to my parents' to spend the day. My original intent was to watch a movie on Netflix but I can't figure out how to turn on their television. It took me almost an entire year to figure out how to use the television in Boston and, as I'm here for only a few days, I simply can't imagine investing the time in trying to figure it out.

Thus, I'm studying for the GRE. The verbal section is fine, really, but the math?  I haven't done geometry in...well, 18 years. The study book I'm using emphasized that neither Trig nor Calculus are on the exam.…