Showing posts from September, 2013


I am excited for tomorrow evening: it will be my first night helping to facilitate the RCIA (Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults) at Saint Cecilia Parish. I have been an RCIA sponsor in the past but this will be the first time I have the privilege of walking with a large group of interested adults as they explore and deepen their nascent Catholic faith. 
Next Sunday's Gospel Reading expresses well what animates this entire journey: Lord, "Increase our faith." The men and women who will gather tomorrow night feel this very request burning in their hearts. Something, someone, has touched their hearts and offered them an invitation to deepen their faith. Somehow they have found within themselves to say, "Yes!" and will begin this journey as a group tomorrow. 
While I can't say that I've spent many sleepless nights planning how the next few months might unfold, I will admit that there have been a few. Should I ask them to read something? Should I find…

Times Go By Turns

Drawn from a line in a poem written by St. Robert Southwell, SJ, Times go by Turns is an absolutely beautiful album recorded recently by New York Polyphony. If you wish to get a sample of the music:

Rather than giving a critique or a music review - which, as little more than a feis musician, I'm not really qualified to do! - let me say something of why I love this album. Perhaps it is too easy, or cowardly, to give a rational critique of a piece of music, feeling the need to justify oneself by using big words or concepts in order to show your audience that you know what you're talking about.

I don't know if I know what I'm talking about, but that's never stopped me from speaking before. I might lack the finesse of a classically trained critic, but I can at least tell you of why something has moved my heart.

The music of the New York Polyphony, for me, undoes a great deal of the damage canned pop music has wrecked upon my ears. Pop music tends to pander to common t…

Missa Charles Darwin

A digital acquaintance, Maura, shared with me two recent recordings by New York Polyphony: "Times Go By Turns" and "Missa Charles Darwin." This entry will deal with the latter, shorter, recording.

Written for a male vocal quartet by composer Gregory W. Brown, the composition unfolds along the traditional five-part structure of the Mass. The innovation of this composition comes both from its lyrics and its melodic composition.

The text of each piece is taken from Charles Darwin's works, such as On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man. To some, this will appear a heretical admixture: surely the songs used to praise God are incompatible with Darwin's words! To those who do not have any great difficulty reconciling religious faith with an acceptance of evolution, the result is stunning: the ancient hymns of praise are infused with words describing the primordial process of evolution.

Ingeniously, and in a way that is boggling to my mind, the very geneti…

Encircled Ever More Tightly

But technological advance will move faster and faster and can never be stopped. In all areas of his existence, man will be encircled ever more tightly by the forces of technology. These forces, which everywhere and every minute claim, enchain, drag along, press and impose upon man under the forms of some technical contrivance or other - these forces, since man has not made them, have moved long since beyond his will and have outgrown his capacity for decision.  Give the Pope-crush so many of us have had in recent weeks, it may surprise you to know that the above quote does not come from the Holy Father. Nor does it come from Karl Rahner, another go-to staple on this blog. Instead, it comes from a somewhat unlikely source: the philosopher Martin Heidegger and his 1955 "Memorial Address."

Imagine his context, writing in the 1950's, and reflect for a moment on how fresh his words are:
...nowadays we take in everything in the quickest and cheapest way, only to forget it jus…

The Papal Interview: Young Jesuits React and Reflect

A Big Heart Open to God

In a candid and wide-ranging interview given at the end of August, Pope Francis met with fellow Jesuit and journalist Antonio Spadaro, SJ.

America Magazine, the Jesuit publication, has printed the full interview in translation. You may find it by going here: A Big Heart Open to God

The interview is also available as an e-book by following this link.

How Can I Give a Hand?

Every day, here and in other centers, so many persons, mostly young people, queue for a hot meal. These people remind us of the suffering and tragedies of humanity. But that queue also tells us that it is possible for all of us to do something now. Suffice it to knock on the door, and try to say: “I’m here. How can I give a hand?” ~Pope Francis
Many thanks to Rocco Palmo for posting the transcript from the Pope's address to asylum seekers. The above quote, the conclusion of the Holy Father's comments, elicit just a few comments from me this morning. 
I know a woman, professionally very successful and well-established in her career, who this semester enrolled in law school. She continues to be active in her community, generous to her friends, and has not left her previous - and highly demanding - job. Yet, as she looks to the future, her own life's history of love and generosity gave her the courage to imagine how she might use her considerable talents to help others. She e…

A Personal Experience of God?

Because God is greater than everything, God can be found if one flees away from the world, but God can come to meet one on the streets in the midst of the world. For this reason Ignatius acknowledges only one law in his restless search for God: to seek him in all things; and this means: to seek him in that spot where at any particular time he wants to be found, and it means, too, to seek him in the world if he wants to show himself in it...                                                                                                                         ~Karl Rahner, SJ
 For Saint Ignatius, and one of his spiritual sons Karl Rahner, a deep and personal encounter was never the reserve of the spiritual elite. One need not enter a convent, or a hermitage, or a seminary in order to find God. Instead, one need only open one's eyes to the world and still one's heart long enough to allow the God of all creation to speak if, and when, God should choose to do so. God, as Rahner no…

The Jesuit Yogi

I was excited to have a chance to listen to my friend and brother Jesuit Bobby Karle, SJ, on a podcast entitled "The Jesuit Yogi."

In the past, I have written on the topic of the compatibility between the practice of Catholicism and the practice of yoga. It has now been several years since I wrote explicitly on this topic and it may be worth revisiting in the future.

I'll admit: the podcast starts out a bit rocky - the interviewer clearly doesn't know very much at the outset of the Society of Jesus, or Catholic religious life, but Bobby does a very nice job of responding to his questions in an accessible way. Bobby spent last summer doing a 200-hour yogi training program in San Francisco and discusses how he envisions incorporating this practice into his apostolic ministry.

There can be, in certain segments of the Catholic community, either a great suspicion of or outright hostility to the practice of yoga. This podcast may be helpful in listening to one person's…

Air Rage

I didn't want my 1100th post to be something negative, so I refrained from writing about one of my flight's this weekend until after I'd crossed the 1100-threshold.

That having been completed, I feel freed to talk about the most negative travel experience I have ever had. Indeed, I'm still so put off that I don't feel the least bit of guilt in giving pretty specific details of the encounter.

On Friday, I took two United Airlines flights to get to Kansas City, Missouri, where I had been invited to play at the 2013 Kansas City Feis. I booked with my normally reliable carrier, United, with whom I have flown 18 times already this year.

Of course, I carry my accordion with me. It's a small accordion whose dimensions fit exactly under the B-seats of the Embraer jets used by Continental for short trips. On larger planes, it fits easily into the overhead bins. Its width meets the requirement and, I dare say, it's no higher than your average bookbag.

All this is to…

Happy Anniversary

It just so happens that yesterday marked the 9th birthday of this blog. Begun by Anne Hall, an Irish dancing teacher and a dear friend, the blog was to meant to be a way for me to stay in contact with people after entering the Society of Jesus as a novice.

Today, one day after it's 9th birthday, this also marks the 1100 post on the blog. 1100 times have I sat down over the years to share some thought, tried to give some glimpse, into one ongoing "Jesuit's Journey." There has never been a specific agenda to this blog and, scrolling through the archives, there's a readily discernible shift in 'tone' and style over the years.

This is as it should be. I entered the Society at the age of 24, having had success as a graduate student and as an Irish musician. I felt then, and still feel today, a great sense of freedom in choosing to answer a call that stirred deep within my heart. The "Yes" I said when I contacted the vocation director in late 2003 ha…